Sturgis Nikides: Guitarist, Producer, Composer | Blues Freak!
Unless you’re a big fan of John Cale’s solo work, you’re probably unfamiliar with Sturgis Nikides. Sturgis was Cale’s guitar player through the 1980s, and has a long, colorful history as a professional musician. Simply put, it’s easy to call him a time-honored vet and indisputable master of the steel guitar, but his first full length solo album stretches his talents to the limit, and allows him to reveal much more than knockout playing. Nikides’ Man of Steel goes beyond your average blues rock, evoking indigent American toughness on so many levels it recalls everything from to John Huston. This is blues on a transcendental level, and to be honest, I think it gives Ry Cooder a run for his money. Nikides plays that fucking thing, that hard steel slide guitar, in a way that doesn’t ask of the listener anything more than their ears and their time. It is not necessary to be an expert on the blues, nor to even be keen on blues music in general, to appreciate the full range of what’s going on here. This music grabs the listener with an instrumental articulation of melancholy that transcends the blues genre while remaining essentially true to it…it is classic yet contemporary, and technologically bolstered without sounding clean. It seems, like all the greatest guitar playing, at once effortless and impossible. For those who are aware of Nikides’ music, these observations are anything but new. However, his confident voice and richly visual lyrics are indeed a revelation. Songs such as “She Got a Gun” and “Room 204”, the album’s best tracks, shimmer with emotional truth of the highest order, that which comes from real bruises and hard earned street experience. The guy pours his damn heart out with fearless intimacy. Man of Steel is brought down by a tired old Rolling Stones cover, but despite it being unnecessary, Nikides’ earnest handling makes it sound fresher than it should. Man of Steel is more than a blues record, it’s a vivid blend of elements all finely honed by the artist throughout his life, and as such, remains one of the true standout efforts of this or any year. This is that kind of music you hear as if it were part of a film you can’t remember seeing, assuming a widescreen scope in certain spots, and the claustrophobia of personal obsession in others. Man of Steel thrives on the dirty and lowdown aspects of life, but not without a sense of redemption. Nikides allows you to tap into a main circuit of hard life, of roads that don’t seem to end. It’s an astonishingly ambitious one-man show that announces Nikides as more then a mere axeman. I hope there’s a follow-up. – GENE GREGORITS, Sex & Guts Magazine Aug,2004
My Jazz Story
Published on: 2017-10-21
I was first exposed to jazz by my father, who was a rabid fan when he was younger, in the early to mid 1950's. We lived in NYC and he was a regular at places like the Village Vanguard and Birdland. One of his favorite stories involved meeting Charlie Parker and Miles on 52nd St. Needless to say, Jazz and Blues were always on the stereo in our home. I was steeped in these exciting sounds, and they make up some of my earliest memories.