Jared James Nichols is a blues rock powerhouse and one of the most exciting guitarists in the modern blues rock scene. Blues Rock Review sat down with Nichols to discuss what “blues power” means to him, using social media to help build his career, helping to lead the way with NFTs in the music business, and how his 1953 Gibson Les Paul keeps him connected with his late father.
“When I found the blues it was like I found everything that I’ve been waiting for,” says guitarist Jared James Nichols.
Jared describes his sound as “blues power.”
“Blues power, the originator was obviously Albert King. I remember when I heard Albert King, Live Wire Blues Power, that record, it hit me so hard. Now I’d already been into Stevie (Ray Vaughan) but then I found out where Stevie was getting it from, so blues power to me kind of encapsulates everything I like about the blues, merging it into rock, just putting it all together.”
Growing up In East Troy, Wisconsin, Nichols didn’t pick up the guitar until he was 15. At 19, he earned a scholarship from the Musician’s Institute.
“The Wisconsin boy moves out to Hollywood, California and I hit the ground running,” says Nichols. “I was like the kid in the movie when he gets off the bus, he lands in Hollywood, and it’s, like, oh man, now what?”
Jared got to work forming a power trio and released his debut album Old Glory and the Wild Revival in 2015. Then in 2016, Jared’s career started to take off when he realized the power of social media.
“Social media has been a huge factor for me, really it started after I started touring with the guitarist/singer/songwriter Zakk Wylde,” Nichols told Blues Rock Review.
Wylde gave Jared advice on a five month world tour.
“I wasn’t really using social media as a tool and I remember Zakk said to me, Jared, get on Instagram, get on YouTube, get on all of these different sites. He goes and start promoting yourself on there. He’s, like, trust me, it’s one thing to play a show and to gain fans at a show he said but you have the world, a whole base where you can really project yourself out.”
Nichols actively started posting videos of his playing on social media and has quickly built a large following.
“What it helped me do was build a brand, the blues power on such a big platform and now it’s so great because I’ll meet people all the time even yesterday we were at Walmart and some guy comes up and says blues power and I’m like, whoa, so it really is wide reaching.”
Nichols has stayed on the cutting edge with Non Fungible Tokens, also known as NFTs.
“Fans can collect them, it’s a digital asset that they actually own a piece of.”
Jared launched his first NFT with his new EP Shadow Dancer available on September 17.
“We ended up doing a special NFT collection, so it was really cool. The first one was the artwork for my first single off of it, “Skin ‘n Bone,” then we had the “Bad Roots” NFT, the next song, so we’re doing four for the collection,” said Nichols.
Nichols is a brand ambassador for Gibson and one of his prized possessions is a 1953 Les Paul called Ole Red. In 2019, Jared met Charlie Daughtry, who owns the Les Paul forum.
“Ole Red was in his collection, he got it from the original owner. 1953, so it’s the second year they made Les Pauls ever. I became fast friends with Charlie, we were hanging out and everything and he has this collection, and I remember I always shined towards that guitar,” says Nichols.
And soon it became Jared’s.
“I remember I was about to leave his house one day and he was, like, are you going to take it with you? And I couldn’t believe it.”
Ole Red has special meaning to Nichols.
“My dad right before he passed in December, he was born in 53, and he really liked that guitar. He was, like, man, that guitar has a soul in it, so I had him carve his name on the side of it. Yes, I had my dad carve his name on a ’53 Les Paul but it brought in so much more meaning.”
Now Jared has that connection to his dad every time he plays Ole Red.
“Truthfully, if I ever want to talk to God or I want to talk to my dad I play that guitar,”says Nichols. “And I feel so happy that I have something like that because it helps in the coping of that loss.”