Ken Nicol is an exceptional musician. As a guitarist he is one of the most skilled and exciting playing anywhere today, as a singer, he is capable of evoking a wide range of emotions in his audience; and as a song writer he demonstrates these abilities in his clever and well, crafted material.
Born in Preston, Ken started playing the regional club circuit where his talents were soon recognised. He formed the band ‘ Nicol and Marsh’s Easy Street’ with Pete Marsh, which generated a lot of local response. Record companies showed interest, and they went on to produce three albums to widespread acclaim. Ken was offered the opportunity to provide musical support for Al Stewart’s band and Loudon Wainwright III on their seasonal circuit. Al Stewart then featured Ken as lead guitarist on his National Tour.
After Ken’s first international with Easy Street and the recording of their third album in America he stayed on in Southern California for two years, playing gigs as a solo acoustic performer, and as the lead singer for the band ‘Versailles’. Ken returned from LA to an enthusiastic audience of UK fans, and continued to work on the Club Circuit as a solo performer, producing the albums; “Living in a Spanish Town”, “Two Frets From The Blues”, “Clean Feet-No Shoes” and more recently, ‘The Bridge’ all released on his own label M.V.S.
In 1997 Ken joined The Albion Band as lead guitarist and singer, writing much of the material himself and co-writing with Ashley Hutchings. They produced four albums in this time; “Happy Accident”, Before Us Stands Yestertday”, “The Christmas Album” and “Road Movies” on the Topic record label. Touring both nationally and internationally from Festival Venues to Arts Centres , The Albion Band’s classic line up of Ken, Ashley Hutchings, Joe Broughton, Neil Marshall and Kellie While has won many rave reveiws. Ken left the Albion Band in September 2001, and continues to write, record and perform, now as a solo artist.
“Ken Nicol’s return from the United States is one of the best things to happen to the British music scene. An immaculate guitarist and a fine lead singer, with the heart to put it together and raise the standards of our circuit.”
I first ran into Ken Nicol and his playing when I was booked at Hugh O’Donnell’s club in Preston and was immediately aware that I was watching and hearing a very high class player indeed. Flexible too. He seemed comfortable with whatever style was tossed at him – and as I remember it, it was a pretty varied evening of music. Talking to him I got the feeling that he had become fed up with just sitting on his bum in LA and had decided, for better or worse, to come home to Preston. Not the most brilliant career move a soul can make (you may say) but then he’s far too independent a soul to pay that kind of thinking too much heed. He is however intelligent enough to have made the most, musically speaking, of the learning opportunities out there and then to have taken such formidable and painstakingly acquired skills on both acoustic and electric guitars where he feels happiest. And that was where, apparently, Preston (home) utterly eclipsed LA. His more recent appearance as a member of the Albion Band has galvanised that mob in no uncertain terms, but this is him on his own. I think that he’s a very good player indeed.
“I know talent when I hear it. Ken is an exceptional player and the consumate professional. He was a credit to our entourage.”
“Ken has a winning vocal style and is a guitarist par excellence. My own first cassette of Ken’s music was donated, at special request, to Stevie’s own collection of ‘noteworthy’ artists.”
Ben Bridges (Guitarist with Stevie Wonder)