Crystal Lake native brings energy to the blues

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If mellow comes to mind when you think of blues music, you haven’t heard Jimmy Nick.

A Crystal Lake native, Nick began performing in Chicago clubs at age 16, combining an energy honed from years of listening to rock bands such as AC/DC with a love of the blues.

Now 24, he and his band, Jimmy Nick & Don’t Tell Mama, will take the stage Aug. 2 as part of the McHenry Rotary Blues, Brews & BBQ festival. The event runs Aug. 1-3 at Petersen Park, and along with some of the region’s top blues acts, will feature an amateur barbecue cook-off and a new home brew competition.

Along with Nick, the festival features performances by well-known artists, including Melvin Taylor, who’s appeared on stage with Carlos Santana, released numerous CDs and is honored in a “Blues Mural” at Midway Airport. Also taking the stage is Steve Ditzell, who has performed and collaborated with Stevie Ray Vaughn, and bands, such as Serious Trouble, Brother K Band and The Moods.

Nick, a 2008 Prairie Ridge graduate, writes his own music and recently released a CD, “Rare Breed.”

“The way I write songs, it’s very original kind of blues and classic rock. It sounds like stuff from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s,” he said. “It has that flavor. I write all the time. I’m a writing fool.”

Here’s more of what he had to say about his music and performing:

Kunzer: You’ve been described as a performer with a lot of energy. What is a Jimmy Nick show like?

Nick: We do play ’50s and ’60s blues and rock and roll, but we do it kind of our way. It’s just a little faster, more upbeat. Really, our main goal is to bring this music to younger people. That’s why we do it. We’re a younger band, and everybody has a good time. Younger kids are starting to come up to us and say, ‘We don’t even like blues, but we love you guys.’ They’re becoming blues fans. We’re not just sitting there and playing slow songs. We’re getting the crowd involved and getting them to watch us.

Kunzer: Talk about your musical influences.

Nick: My absolute favorite band is AC/DC. Listening to their music, their guitar players are heavily influenced by Chicago blues. I kind of took from that. Ever since I was 3 years old, my favorite movie and soundtrack has always been ‘The Blues Brothers.’ It’s been in my head since I was 3 years old, so it kind of just came out.

Kunzer: What are your career goals?

Nick: I would love to be famous and making money, like everyone trying to do this. But more of an individual goal, I just want to keep the Chicago blues, ‘50s rock and roll alive and just keep representing and keeping it out there and reminding people of people like Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry because popular music is so far away from the blues.

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