There’s a new sheriff in town.

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Danni Nicholls at The Greenhouse, Dingwall, Saturday 26/4/14. A review.

Truly folks, The Greenhouse really does punch well above its weight more often than not. Locals, get up and get down there, the rest of you, it’s only a 20 minute drive (tops) from Inverness; even with the bridge road-works. Today you missed a stellar performance from a touring artist with an impressive CV.

Danni Nicholls 4 300x199 - There’s a new sheriff in town.Wearing her country/Americana heart firmly on her sleeve, Danni Nicholls is touring this far north for the first time, working her way across country she has just completed gigs in Ullapool and Inverness, stopping by The Greenhouse en-route to The Crystal House in Strathpeffer before heading east to our very own windy city, Aberdeen. Thursday 29th April sees her take to the stage at the Blue Lamp in support of Madison Violet. Now there’s a gig and a half.

From a young age, Danni was soaking up American folk, country and rock n roll music from her Grandmother’s record collection in her small home town of Bedford, UK. When she inherited her Uncle Heathcliff’s 1962 Burns London Shortscale Jazz guitar (rumoured to have belonged to Billy Fury!) aged 16, all those influences came pouring back out in the form of her own original material and has been flowing ever since.

Danni Nicholls 71 300x300 - There’s a new sheriff in town.Danni met Producer Chris Donohue (The Civil Wars, Elvis Costello, Robert Plant) in London in 2011 through a mutual friend whilst Chris was in the UK playing bass with Emmylou Harris as one of her Red Dirt Boys. The pair hit it off and in December 2012, Danni flew to Nashville to record her debut album with Chris at the helm and some of Nashville’s finest musicians.

Today’s performance was a well crafted affair. Danni is warm and likeable, confident and comfortable on stage she is generous with her time and the sizeable crowd today left thinking they had made a new friend. Two sets of self-penned songs and well chosen covers, Jolene, The Tennessee Waltz, Wild Mountain Thyme and a rip-roaring encore consisting of Fulsom Prison Blues. There was dancing I tell you. All of this delivered with passion, humour and commitment, accompanied on two songs – first in the key of C then in the key of G – by our own Don Jack with mandolin.

An instantly likeable voice that had me reminiscing about the likes of Emmylou Harris and Bonnie Raitt she is a gifted songwriter and guitarist (some fabulous picking patterns going on). Bluesy and soulful she delivered material inspired by life experiences, love, hopes and dreams and of course, like all gifted story-tellers, if she comes across you looking lonesome and blue, she’ll write a song about it. Most of todays set featured on her recently released album, A Little Redemption.

Danni Nicholls 8 300x199 - There’s a new sheriff in town.A Little Redemption was released July 2013 on Transmission Recordings.
Credits on the album include the legendary Al Perkins on Dobro (Bob Dylan, Gram Parsons, The Rolling Stones) and Steve Fishell on Pedal Steel (Albert Lee, Willie Nelson, Linda Ronstadt).

Two more of Emmylou’s Red Dirt Boys also feature; Will Kimbrough, guitars (Little Feat, Josh Rouse, John Prine) and Bryan Owings, drums (Iris De Ment, Wanda Jackson). Plus a whole host of others of equal stature. Guest vocalists on the album include Butterfly Boucher, Cindy Morgan, Brigitte De Meyer and Dave Burn (AHAB). What to say, It’s been getting rave reviews. On the strength of todays performance I bought it and had to take the long way home so I could listen to it right through in the car. If I had the space here – it would be getting another rave review.

For more information check out her website (if you do then some of the info above will be familiar – thanks Danni) and also have a listen to her second EP ‘Time’ here . But better than that, go see her and buy that album, you wont be disappointed.

A notefrom the editor

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Roddy McKenzie
Roddy McKenzie
Life-long engagement with music and a truly eclectic taste (although prog-rock and metal will usually have me scrambling for the off button). If pushed, I would have to say the Velvet Underground are one of the most important band’s of all time. Although I consider myself first and foremost a photographer, as regards reviewing I guess I cut my teeth in the vibrant fanzine scene of the 80’s. Around the same time I started taking photographs and, to be brief, performance and photography were made for each other: perfect match.

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