If you happen to be born in Chicago, the Blues is in your DNA like the genes that determine your hair and eye color. And if you show even a spark of musical talent, the sonic traits that accompany your birthplace will emerge early; your first word is likely to be “Muddy” and you’ll probably sing “Sweet Home Chicago” long before “Happy Birthday.”
Such is the case with guitarist/vocalist Nick Moss. Moss was a standout high school athlete, but kidney dysfunction benched him. He learned to play bass from his older brother during his long recuperation. Once healed, he snuck into a Chicago nightclub to see Little Charlie and the Nightcats and decided on the spot that he would make it up to that stage.
Upon graduation, Moss secured the bass position first with Buddy Scott’s Rib Tips and then with Jimmy Dawkins, but he picked up the guitar when he joined legendary Muddy Waters drummer Willie “Big Eyes” Smith’s band, and that sealed the deal. Between his stints with Smith and Jimmy Rogers, Moss learned every facet of classic electric Chicago Blues, which he applied liberally to his own work when he started Nick Moss and the Flip Tops in 1997.
Over the next 12 years, Moss and the Flip Tops released a string of incendiary studio and live albums (on Moss’ own label, Blue Bella) and became one of the country’s most renowned Blues outfits, eventually accruing nearly a dozen and a half Blues Music Award nominations and a formidable live reputation. After two live releases, Moss shelved the Flip Tops and recorded his first album under his name alone, 2010’s scorching Privileged, a tribute to his childhood Blues Rock heroes like Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and ZZ Top. After 2011’s similarly powered Here I Am, Moss revived his group identity as the Nick Moss Band for 2014’s Time Ain’t Free. Last year’s blistering live release, Live and Luscious, was recorded during their exultant set at the Baltic Blues Festival in Eutin, Germany. Like the T-shirt says, “Shut the F**k Up, Nick Moss is Playing.”
Find more info on the Winter Blues Fest here.