Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s featured selection is one of the artists performing the 23rd Annual Shake the Shack Rockabilly Ball, running this Thursday through Saturday, September 23-25, at the Tractor Tavern in Ballard.
Although born in raised in Portland, Maine, Nick Curran seemed to naturally have Texas blood in his veins. Growing up in a musical family, he learned to play instruments early on (drums at 3, guitar at 9), and by the time he was old enough to leave home, the 19-year old Curran hit the road with rockabilly musician Ronnie Dawson. Soon, he was living in Dallas, backing Texas rockabilly singer Kim Lenz, and eventually made friends with Jimmie Vaughn and recorded with The Fabulous Thunderbirds. Even in Texas terms, it was a meteoric rise. Curran, though, took his time between his fourth album, 2004’s Player!, which won him the W.C. Handy Award for Best New Artist Debut, and this year’s Reform School Girl on Electro Groove Records.
All the while, Nick Curran has been developing his style, modeling himself after his flamboyant guitarist heroes like Guitar Slim and Johnny Guitar Watson. Blues and rockabilly are certainly part of his sound, but his brand of Texas rock is just as likely to be compared to The Sonics, The Stooges, and even The Misfits as to Chuck Berry and Little Richard. Reform School Girl, like his previous albums, is recorded all on vintage gear, but the years between have breathed new fire into the album — which you’ll hear for yourself this Saturday during the final night of the 23rd Annually Rockabilly Ball, when Nick Curran and his recent band The Lowlifes perform with Ruby Dee and the Snakehandlers, The Donettes, and Jerry King and the Riverside Ramblers. Don’t miss it!
Here’s a surprisingly old video, dating back to 1997, with Nick Curran backing Ronnie Dawson for the then KCMU Shake the Shack Rockabilly Ball: