Northampton Press

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PHOTO BY GRANT KESSLER The Nick Moss Band, 7 p.m. March 28, The Epic Center, 1205 Broadway, Fountain Hill PHOTO BY GRANT KESSLER The Nick Moss Band, 7 p.m. March 28, The Epic Center, 1205 Broadway, Fountain Hill

Spotlight On: Nick Moss playing for 'Time'

Wednesday, March 26, 2014 by CAMILLE CAPRIGLIONE Special to The Press in Focus

The Nick Moss Band's newly-released 10th album, "Time Ain't Free" (Blue Bella Records), is described by Jambase as "a high-water mark for the Chicago-based band. Fourteen tracks will have you tapping your feet along and dropping your jaw at Moss's many blistering guitar solos."

The Nick Moss Band performs at 7 p.m. March 28, The Epic Center, 1205 Broadway, Fountain Hill, presented by the 2nd Story Blues Alliance. Bob Lanza opens the show.

With a music career that began in 1990, Nick Moss has played with Buddy Scott, Jimmy Dawkins, Jimmy Rogers, and The Legendary Blues Band, as well as being front man of his own band, Nick Moss and the Flip Tops.

Four of his albums, "Got a New Plan" (2001), "Count Your Blessings" (2003), "Sadie Mae" (2005) and "Live at Chan's" (2006), were nominated for the W.C. Handy Award. The ninth album, "Here I Am," was nominated for a Blues Music Award in 2013.

With 10 albums to date, all released under Moss' own record label, Blue Bella, the band possesses an impressive and masterful Chicago blues sound. His band has an intense blend of traditional blues and progressive, jam-oriented rock.

Moss, a vocalist who plays bass, guitar and harmonica, says he was inspired at a very young age by his mother's music collection of such rock, country and soul performers as The Eagles, The Allman Brothers, B.B. King and Gladys Knight.

In a recent phone interview with Moss from his home in Chicago, where he was born and raised and lives with his wife, Kate, and their 10-year old daughter, Moss, says. "My most vivid early memory was my mom playing B.B. King's album, 'Indianola Mississippi Seeds.' I asked her, 'Who is that playing guitar?'"

Moss was surrounded by other music influences. "My dad was a greaser and he liked Doo-Wop," says Moss. "My uncle, who acted more like an older brother, was slipping [my brother and me] Ted Nugent and Led Zeppelin albums. In kindergarten, I got a record player. I played a Ted Nugent record for Show and Tell and got sent to the principal's office."

At the age of 18, Moss was on his way to a successful college football career. He was also a state championship heavyweight wrestler. But life changed drastically when a serious kidney ailment led to surgery that removed 80 percent of his kidney. Doctors said that he might not live, and if he did, he would be on dialysis for the rest of his life. They also said Moss would never play football again.

Music was instrumental in Moss' recovery. "Music has healing powers. There was an epiphany. I saw a band play [during my hospitalization] and I took a different path. I never got into 'woe is me.' I was very matter-of-fact. I thought, 'If I can't be an athlete, why go to college?'"

Moss had a bass guitar at the hospital, and a pocket amplifier and headphones, which pulled him through the long, difficult months. After his recovery, Moss entered the Chicago blues scene. He prefers playing bass to guitar, "I don't have to be in the spotlight all the time. When I play bass, I marvel at how refreshing it is to be so completely invisible. I have a lot of respect for bassists."

The Nick Moss Band lineup is Michael Ledbetter, vocals, guitar, percussion, and Patrick Seals, drums and percussion.

Moss admits his first seven LPs were traditional blues albums, yet he longed to make things fresh and not follow a set pattern. "In the media, I was getting a tag as the torch-bearer of Chicago Blues. My eighth album ('Here I Am') was a complete break from what I'd done before. I'd proven that I could take this music and make it a little more modern, with less constriction. I went back to my rock and roll roots."

"Here I Am" received critical acclaim, and Moss says that even if he lost some blues-dedicated fans, he more than added other fans. Moss was featured in Relix magazine and gained airplay on radio stations that he never had before.

The Nick Moss Band often plays for charities and benefit concerts, such as Toys for Tots and Misunderstood: the Breed and the Blues (pit bull awareness).

"I love that jam bands have freedom. Audiences enjoy it. My whole goal is to make good music. When people ask, 'What's your best CD?' I say, 'All of them.'"