Buffalo Nichols at Songbyrd
Buffalo Nichols‘ self-titled debut LP has a good home at Fat Possum Records. The legendary indie blues label out of Mississippi may be more known for recent signings of rock acts like Spiritualized, Wavves, and The Black Keys, but with Nichols’ release, they’re going back to their blues roots, sort of. The eight song, mostly acoustic, album does not feature any recording gimmicks, like going direct to acetate or vocals sung through a bullhorn to sound old. Instead, it features tracks that could have been released in 1921, but are quite timely in 2021, specifically “Living Hell.” (Somewhat related, according to his artist bio, Nichols is an atheist; I can not cite another blues musician openly declaring this.) When we asked Nichols’ if anyone on the label helped shape his sound, he pointed to Robert Belfour. “His guitar playing is really unique and interesting. Of course R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough have influenced me too,” Nichols says. The biggest difference between Belfour, Burnside, Kimbrough, and Nichols is about 50 years. Nichols is a relatively young touring musician and an extremely young touring blues musician. In 2021, it’s quite nice to see an actual blues musician playing blues at a club that typically doesn’t program blues, which is exactly what will happen when Nichols’ plays Songbyrd on Nov. 9. It’s one of D.C.’s most exciting venues, bringing acts of almost every genre that will likely graduate to larger stages as they continue to tour. But blues is an outlier, making Tuesday’s show even more enticing. Oh, and it’s free. Buffalo Nichols performs at 7 p.m. on Nov. 9 at Songbyrd, 540 Penn Street N.E. songbyrddc.com. Free.