Alligator Records is pleased to announce the signing of famed Chicago-based blues guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Nick Moss. The Nick Moss Band, featuring Dennis Gruenling, will release their label debut, The High Cost Of Low Living, in March 2018.
Nick Moss is a bona fide bluesman to his soul with 12 solo releases to his credit, ranging from straight ahead Chicago blues to experimental blues-rock. The new album is a return to the classic Chicago blues ensemble sound Moss knows, lives and loves. But it’s no re-creation of old songs. Moss wrote nine memorable new originals and Gruenling wrote two, all rooted in the blues tradition.
Moss is a 30-year veteran guitarist who paid his dues gigging in Chicago’s rough and tumble West and South side blues clubs under the tutelage of some of the city’s greatest blues luminaries. He learned directly from, and toured with, blues giants Jimmy “Fast Fingers” Dawkins, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith and Jimmy Rogers.
New Jersey’s Dennis Gruenling is considered among the very top blues harmonica players today. As a teen, Gruenling heard the Alligator recording Harp Attack! (featuring Junior Wells, Carey Bell, James Cotton and Billy Branch) and decided the harmonica was his calling. A self-taught player, his fat-toned harp work, soulful singing and raw-boned, untamed energy are a perfect foil for Moss’ hair-raising guitar playing and commanding vocals. Blues Revue called Gruenling “a leading light among a new generation of harp players…a true innovator.”
According to Alligator Records president Bruce Iglauer, Nick is a natural fit for the label. “It’s very exciting to bring an artist to Alligator who is so deeply rooted in the Chicago blues tradition, but creating fresh new songs to carry that tradition forward. He’s a thrilling guitar player, a gritty, honest singer, and his band is tough as nails. Dennis Gruenling is a blues harmonica master and a terrific showman, and he brings another world class talent to Nick’s band. These are artists that any fan of the blues has got to love.”
Moss is equally thrilled, saying, “I am extremely excited and honored to be a part of Alligator Records’ legacy. It was 35 years ago I got my first Alligator recording — Blues Deluxe — and 30 years ago I saw my first Alligator act, Little Charlie & The Nightcats, in person. My life has never been the same!”
Growing up in Chicago and standing tall at 6’2″, Moss (born December 15, 1969), dreamed of playing both music and sports. When kidney surgery sidelined his athletic hopes, he dove headfirst into the blues. His mother was a huge blues fan, even taking a young Nick to see bluesmen like Muddy Waters live in concert. Originally a bass player, Moss got his first professional break touring and playing bass with legendary West Side Chicago guitarist Jimmy “Fast Fingers” Dawkins. He next toured with Willie “Big Eyes” Smith (longtime Muddy Waters’ drummer), leader of the Legendary Blues Band. Finding himself in need of a guitarist, Smith insisted Moss switch instruments. Combining his natural talent with his monumental work ethic, Moss quickly rose in the ranks, becoming a highly sought-after player. Bluesman Jimmy Rogers (famous for his pioneering guitar work with Muddy Waters and for his solo hit Walking By Myself) hired Moss to join his touring band and became his mentor.
Moss formed his own band in 1997 and released the first of his 12 solo albums a year later on his own independent Blue Bella label. He’s received 21 Blues Music Award nominations and has earned legions of fans around the world, playing over 100 shows a year. Moss has shared stages with Buddy Guy, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Gary Clark, Jr., David Hidalgo and many others.
Although Moss and Gruenling had known each other for 20 years and have jammed together often, it wasn’t until 2016 that they decided to team up full time. Moss’ deeply rooted yet fully modern guitar playing flawlessly meshes with Gruenling’s monster harmonica chops. On stage, the two communicate seemingly telepathically, as Moss lays down the deepest blues licks and Gruenling’s harmonica wails and howls in perfect response, with Moss’ top-notch band adding their energy and expertise to the ensemble.
With the release of The High Cost Of Low Living, The Nick Moss Band Featuring Dennis Gruenling will travel the country, bringing their high-energy show to clubs, concert halls, roadhouses and festival stages, continuing to excite and inspire longtime fans while earning new ones every time they perform.