Blues Bytes


August 2016

The Nick Schnebelen Band
Live at Knuckleheads
Vizztone Records

Nick Schnebelen Band

We all wondered what would become of the Schnebelen siblings after they announced that their family band, Trampled Under Foot, was dissolving and Nick, Chris and Danielle were all going their separate ways. Danielle chose to front her own project, the Danielle Nicole Band. Brother Kris is spending a fair amount of time in Florida, drumming for Sean Chambers, and Nick’s new project, The Nick Schnebelen Band, is up and running with their first disc, Live at Knuckleheads. Frank Hicks runs this amazing club in Kansas City and it was here, in the Gospel Lounge, that Nick and the band recorded their live disc. The home folks were good to Nick and the band shared their heart and soul with an appreciative crowd at Knuckleheads. Let’s give the disc a spin.

Nick’s guitar provides a lively intro to our first track, “I’m Goin,” and this is music that sounds familiar to me. Nick tells us he’s leaving and nobody is going to know where he’s going. “I’ve got my ticket…suitcase in my hand…I’m moving out east…going to a faraway land.” It’s not particularly clear where Nick’s headed but this opening tune is one I’m sure the folks in the Gospel Lounge all got behind. Nick provides an intense guitar intro to our next cut, “Willie James,” and here we began to appreciate Heather Newman’s influence on the band’s music. Willie James is an aspiring musician who can’t seem to sit still long enough to see what would happen if he pursued his passion, “Well, back in his room…he picks up his guitar…but his hands just seem to want to dance…yes, the blues is in his soul…and he wants to let it show…but until then…he’s lost his chance.” Until he feels comfortable in his surroundings, Willie is just going to keep moving and never realize his life’s dream.

The band slows the tempo way down and Heather is still at the microphone for our next cut, “Crazy.” “Maybe I’m crazy…maybe you’re crazy…maybe we’re crazy…. Knowing Nick and just getting to know Heather, I’d say they’re both crazy, but I love Heather’s phrasing with this tune and her ability to convey the fact that they’re both crazy, “probably.” Nick’s fretwork is blazing throughout and I like this tune a lot. “Desperate Heart” is the next tune up and Nick’s passionate fretwork provides the perfect complement to Heather’s vocal. “Darkness and fear….you fear like you’re losing…the one you love…cause night after night…the same old fight…over this desperate heart.” The rhythm section of Joe Voye and Cliff Moore is front and center as Nick takes the mic to tell us about the “Break of Day”. “Packed up my suitcase…moved down the road…looking for a little woman…a little girl…that gets my soul.” Nick woke up at the crack of dawn, hugging the pillow where his woman used to sleep and decided it was time to hit the road and find a new woman. “Now I looked to the east…done look to the west…looking for the little woman…that I love best.” Ultimately Nick was successful and I wish him well with the new woman in his life.

Why the band segues into “Bad Disposition” next is beyond me. He’s just found happiness and now he’s looking at his dark side. “I’m crying in my sleep…don’t know what to do…things sure changed when I first met you…I’ve got a bad disposition…I’m feeling real mean.” Things evidently went south in a hurry and I’m sure Nick will find his way clear.Heather returns to the microphone for the vocals on the band’s next track, “Tailgate Swing.” “Guess it’s my desire…soakin' in my bones…but one thing, that’s for sure…got a mind of its own…can’t help it…here’s my tailgate swing…no matter how I try…can’t control that thing.” Heather’s “tailgate swing” has gotten her in and out of more trouble than we should comment on here, but one thing’s for sure, “I can’t help it…here’s my tailgate swing.”

“Who Will Comfort Me” has a spiritual feel to it and Heather uses this as an opportunity to comment on the nature of her soul. “My soul is a weary…and beaten down…with all my misery…Oh, Lord…who will comfort me?” While the source of her comfort isn’t clear, what is clear is that Heather’s soul is crying out for a ray of light…a shoulder to lean on in these troubled times and I hope she finds it. “Spoonful” is another familiar tune with a Hill Country vibe that finds everyone looking for just a hint of love. “Well, it could be a spoonful of coffee….it could be a spoonful of tea…just a spoonful of your precious love…is good enough for me. Everyone’s fighting about that spoonful.” May we all walk away winners. Nick’s fretwork continues to provide just the right amount of desperation to emphasize the importance of “just a spoonful.”

“Sleep Walk” takes me back to ’50s and ’60s Rock n’ Roll with its doo wop feel, providng a momentary respite as an instrumental before the band segues into its take of a Dolly Parton classic, “Jolene.” I haven’t heard this song in years and it’s interesting to me to hear Heather’s take on this tune. “I can easily understand…how you can easily take my man…but you don’t know what he means to me, Jolene.” Heather’s version is true to form and you can hear the agony in her voice as she’s faced with the fact that her man might be lost to Jolene forever.

The band revs up its engine for the final track on the disc, “New Orleans,” and Nick is back at the microphone for this tune. “Every Southern Bell is a Mississippi Queen…every Mississippi…down in New Orleans.”

It’s clear that Nick and the band have a chemistry that works. The fans at Knuckleheads are a crazy bunch and I would have liked to have heard/felt more of their energy on this record, knowing that Nick, Heather and the band put on a tremendous live show. Live at Knuckleheads provides a wonderful snapshot of where The Nick Schnebelen Band is now; what’s more important is what they will become.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the band will continue to evolve into a force to be reckoned with as they hit the road hard, celebrate their unique band chemistry and take more risks creatively with their music. Look for Nick and the band on the road this summer doing exactly that, and grab a copy of the new record when you see them. Their schedule is at, and kudos to Vizztone for supporting Nick’s new project.

--- Kyle Deibler



[Pick Hit][What's New][Surprise][Flashback][Feedback][Back Issues][Home Page]


The Blues Bytes URL... 
Revised: August 23, 2016 - Version 1.00
All contents Copyright © 2016, Blue Night Productions. All rights reserved.