If you are a blues music lover, even a quick listen to the Nick Moss Band’s critically acclaimed 2016 two-disc CD, From the Root to the Fruit, will leave you feeling ecstatically optimistic about the future of blues music. It also leads us to think, “OMG! Why haven’t we presented Nick Moss before now?! Where have we been?”
Native Chicago guitarist and blues aficionado Nick Moss is a 16-time Blues Music Award nominee (and three-time 2017 BMA nominee) and one of the most exciting, dynamic blues performers working today. Literally a walking encyclopedia of blues and music knowledge, his deep understanding of the genre shines in the new release From the Root to the Fruit (Blue Bella Records, 2016), a stunning recording that should be considered an essential additional to any modern blues collection.
Explains Moss, “From the Root to the Fruit was really born out of the concept that American music is connected by the blues and each generation adds something new to the mix. I made the decision a couple of years ago to do a double record, sort of a concept album, as my band was learning some traditional blues tunes for our shows. The guys in my band, true to form, were adding something new to the blues mix. Part of the growth I want to showcase with From the Root to the Fruit wasn’t only my own development as a band leader, but the incredible musicianship of the people I play with. Nightly, the people I am on stage with simply amaze me.”
“The more traditional blues record of the double disc set is a little looser,” says Moss. “There’s a little bit of 40’s and 50’s jump blues, 60’s and 70’s style blues, Texas style, Chicago, and uptown blues. The second CD encompasses a more progressive look at the blues; it’s more modern and experimental. It’s blues with a soul and garage punk sound with some Rolling Stones blues tossed in for good measure.”
And of course the album’s title represents something Nick (and most blues fans) feels passionately, when he states, “Blues is first and foremost an African American art form and is America’s gift to the world. Whether or not people realize it or acknowledge it, the root of all popular music goes back to the blues.” Nick adds, “People are always debating the blues; what it is and what it is not and should not be…. To me, a pure approach to the blues has more to do with the emotion the music evokes and the heart of the player; what someone looks like says very little about their musical heart.”
To prove his point, Moss tells a moving story of his daughter’s “heart moment” as she listened to Ella Fitzgerald. “When my daughter was a toddler, she was sitting in her car seat and I had Ella Fitzgerald playing on the sound system. I noticed she was very animated in the back seat. She was singing along and moving her arms and then she just started staring forward.”
“I said, ‘Honey what’s wrong?’ And she said, ‘Daddy, why does my heart hurt?’”
“And that is really it, isn’t it? Music elicits a right reaction, a heart reaction, whether you’re three or thirty or ninety. My mission with my music is to reach like minded people. I want to reach people with music that want to be reached.”