Musician rounds up his talented buddies for concert
It never fails. It can be the Key West Seafood Festival, a local bar or the stage at the Key West Theater. When Nick Norman picks up a guitar and begins to sing, people stop what they are doing and become hypnotically engaged.
It’s hard to pinpoint just one attribute on why Norman, who cut his roots performing at a Baptist church back in his native South Carolina, is so compelling as a live performer. After all, he has all the attributes of someone on the verge of legitimate stardom. He is a prolific writer, a consummate worker and has a distinct voice saturated in fervid soulfulness.
But ask anyone who knows Nick Norman, and the first thing one will point to is his patented smile. Norman, who has performed everywhere from The Fillmore in Detroit to bars all over Key West, is rarely seen without his trademark — whether it be in person or on stage.
When asked about his affable grin, Nick is quick to reveal the source of his genuine exhilaration. He is a man living out a dream. Not only has he carved out a successful career in music with multifarious blends of Southern soul, bluegrass and rock — he has been able to do so alongside his friends, a band of brothers to some extent, that he grew up with in Columbia, SC.
“There is nothing more important,” said Norman, referring to the musical pact. “I want to play music with my friends. It’s why I started doing it and it’s what made me who I am.”
This Sunday, April 10, Nick Norman will take the stage at the Key West Theater, where locals will clamor to hear his unique hits, such as “Adeline” and “Good Whiskey & Cheap Cocaine.” But Sunday night will be far from one of Norman’s typical shows, as his pals Joal Rush, Lewis Brice, Finnegan Bell (made up of Shane Williams and Warren Bazemore), and Chris Weaver will join him on stage.
Each artist, who either share their South Carolina roots or Nashville ties with Norman, are all widely accomplished artists — an improbable feat for a group of best friends with similar aspirations. The pack has scored appearances on CMT, label deals and performances alongside some of the biggest names in show business. But it is Nick’s journey alongside them, not the accolades, that promise to a make Sunday’s show an unforgettable experience.
“You can expect a hell of a show,” said Norman. “It will be like sitting in our living room as we tell our stories from over the years, with a collection of our songs.”
Norman attributes much of his style and success to each member of Sunday’s troop, along with Lewis Brice’s brother, Lee, who has become a household name in Country Music.
“Lewis was like my little brother and Lee [Brice] and I were leading music together at a summer camp,” said Norman on his days growing up in South Carolina “Music was just something we always did. I just never thought we would still be doing it today. It’s a special group.”
And while Norman always had his sights set on a career in music, he whimsically reflects on an array of side jobs he worked to stay afloat as a young man, including stints at a pawnshop, an income tax service and Chick-Fil-A.
“As far as my music career, it really started in high school when I traveled as a guitar tech with Warren and Shane,” said Norman. “I got to travel with their band called ‘Silers Bald’ at the time and it was one of my biggest influences.”
But it wasn’t until 2005, after Norman visited Key West to hear Joal Rush at Hog’s Breath, that the local favorite made the move to the Southernmost City. Soon after, Joal and Lewis began to call Key West their second home and the group quickly became some of the most notable musicians on the island.
Today, Nick Norman is known throughout Key West and beyond. But when the devoted husband and father is not spending time with his wife (Kelly) and their daughter (TK), he continues to diligently perfect his craft.
“I want to become a better musician, so I practice piano and guitar and play,” said Norman. “As for my own songs, I like to let them grow and take my time with them. But having a child makes you realize the important things. My old songs tell a story — and now I write songs to tell my new story. It’s the perfect life for me.”
In humble fashion, Norman finds himself at the reins of a musical renaissance in Key West and Sunday’s show will certainly evoke emotions and artistry between a group of pals that typically do not need additional motivation. But for Nick Norman, a man who cut his teeth in the bowels of a Baptist Church, it will be a spiritual experience between friends.
“For me, there’s just something about performances in a theater that transcend coliseums,” said Norman referring to Sunday’s show at the Key West Theater. “To put on an intimate show is the hardest thing to do. You have to be real and pure —and a theater presents the best opportunity for that to happen.”
For more on Sunday’s performance go to: www.thekeywesttheater.com