Smile Politely

The ubiquity of Nielsen

Thursday night at the Cowboy Monkey should prove to be both interesting and entertaining. This of course corresponds with the arrival of Miles Nielsen and his “Beatle-esque Cosmic Americana” show. Miles has a bio that is both slick and nicely compressed into a zip file. Its modifiers weave a story of a kid growing up with power-pop DNA and tour bus tales, which ultimately came to form the foundation of a musical career that was his destiny. Traditionally, the name Nielsen is synonymous with ridiculous five neck Hamer guitars and of course, Cheap Trick. So even though Miles was born with the proverbial rock and roll golden spoon, he has gone through great links to set himself apart. Fall 2009 and Winter 2009/10 was a very productive time for Miles, with a Daytrotter Session in the books, an appearance with Cory Chisel & The Wandering Sons on “The Jimmy Fallon Show” and at Carnegie Hall/Zankel Theater, as well a tour in support of Brendan Benson (The Raconteurs).

I first encountered Miles as the bass player in the heavily lauded Corey Chisel and the Wandering Sons. It was refreshing to hear a band that embraced the roots of American music so effortlessly and expansively. Miles filled in the rhythm section so unassumingly and laid back, that I was quite curious to experience him as a solo artist. I had this opportunity a year or so ago upstairs at Mike ‘n Molly’s. He performed bare bones with only an electric guitar.  His voice and songs were infectious and poppy. The seeming shyness of his background role in The Wandering Sons was cast aside for strong stage presence and witty banter. These skills were no doubt instilled in his formative years on tour with Cheap Trick.
On his debut album Miles, Nielsen gets help from Bun E. Carlos of Cheap Trick, Danny Louis of Gov’t Mule and Marc Ford of The Black Crowes. The production is polished and the guest musicians are, well to say the least, experienced. There is definitely a vein of heavy retro/introspection and coming of age story telling that is very Midwestern and at the same time austere. The songs have a different feel than the raw solo performances I was first privy too.  I am wondering if he will be adorned with a traveling band this time around. A live performance with a band might give better context to a record that is a complex departure from my one live experience. I am sure it will be worth it to go out on a Thursday night to witness the progeny of power pop prowess do his own thang. These are usually the shows that you kick yourself for missing. So do us all a favor and come check it out.

Miles Nielsen plays tomorrow night (May 13) at the Cowboy Monkey (10 p.m. $5)

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