Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

Unique talent to rock out at The Club Room


Chris Hupe

Whatzup Features Writer

Published May 9, 2019

Heads Up! This article is 3 years old.

In a recent tweet, Eddie Trunk called him “one of the best emerging young rock talents out there.” Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry described him in a recent interview as “the best young guitar player I’ve seen in the past thirty years.”

When people who know music as well as those two say stuff like that, it lets you know that guy is probably doing something right. One thing’s for sure, if you love the guitar, blues, or rock, Jared James Nichols is a name you need to know.

Stopped picking up a pick

The first thing most people notice about the 30-year-old Nichols when they see him is that, unlike most guitarists playing his style of music, he doesn’t use a pick.

In a recent interview with Whatzup, Nichols told the story about how his unique technique developed.

“I’m a left-handed guy, but I play guitar righty, so that was already a weird thing when I started,” he said. “I originally wanted to play a regular guitar, but I wanted to play it upside down. That felt comfortable to me. When I got a guitar teacher he said, ‘Dude, what are you doing? Flip the guitar. You cannot play like that.’ So I flip the guitar and I’m playing with my thumb. He goes, ‘You need a pick. If you’re going to be a real guitar player you got to play with a pick.’ So I learned how to play like that for about four years.

“I was doing everything by the book until I was around 18 years old. I was like, this is all good but how do I sound like me? All of my favorite players just did what was natural and felt right to them, so I started flirting around with just playing with my fingers and I loved the sound and feel of it. Then one day I showed up to a gig with no guitar picks and realized I didn’t need them, I was just going to play without them. It was so liberating and so awesome. I’m like, ‘I’m going to go with that.’”

Authentic Blues Rock

No matter how you classify his music, Nichols doesn’t seem to care as long as you keep listening. Like a lot of artists, he plays what feels good to him and what he thinks others might enjoy hearing him play.

“I’m all over the board,” he said. “I know it sounds kind of cheesy, but I just play what I love. I just let it all come out. I think that’s what makes a great guitarist. We all play the same notes, but it’s how you play them that sets you apart.”

His style is easily comparable to current blues/rock superstars like Joe Bonamassa and Anthony Gomes, so Fort Wayne fans should have no problem identifying with him as those two guitarists are revered as near-royalty in this town. Passionate, highly energetic, and as authentic as it gets, Nichols can hang with the best and will likely be included in the same sentences as those two greats in the near future.

That Nichols doesn’t allow himself to be pigeonholed into one genre has allowed him to tour with a wide variety of artists from Lynyrd Skynyrd to ZZ Top all the way to blues guys like Walter Trout, metal god Zakk Wylde, and classic rock legend Glenn Hughes.

He’s even played Hellfest in France, a heavy metal festival that, he said, fully embraced what he was doing.

“It was amazing,” Nichols said. “Nobody like me had ever played that festival before, but they seemed to like it. What I’ve noticed is that no matter who is in the audience, people get it. Music lovers are music lovers.”

Not Tired of the road

Touring is not just a hobby for Nichols. It’s a way of life, logging tons of frequent flyer miles in the process. Though he seems to have lost count, he has made at least seven trips to Europe in the last year, “maybe more,” in support of his newest album, Black Magic.

He has hit many venues in America as well, but he says he’s not getting tired of the road.

“This year is going to be particularly crazy,” Nichols said. “I think I’m on the road, honestly, all year. I’m doing the Indiana shows and then playing some festivals then doing a clinic tour that takes me all the way from America to Egypt and Dubai. It’s crazy the amount of travel I’ve been doing. But you know what? I’m just very thankful and grateful that I love it. It’s so much fun.”

Nichols went on to say that shows like the one he will play in The Club Room at The Clyde are particularly exciting for him and that he is really looking forward to playing in Fort Wayne, for more than one reason.

“First off, unlike playing a festival or playing in a support spot, it’s my show, so I can really go for it,” he said. “There haven’t been a lot of times yet where I’ve been able to travel and do a ton of headlining stuff, so I try to make those shows very special when I get a chance. I try to really make sure it’s worth coming out and worth seeing. I’m really trying to make an impact and reach out to as many people as possible and these are the best shows to do that.”

Secondly, Nichols feels honored to be one of the first national acts to grace the stage of the new Club Room at The Clyde.

“That’s cool for me. That’s so awesome. I hope it will be the first of many times I play there. We’re going to leave it all on the stage. And I can finally show off all the gear I’ve bought at Sweetwater.”

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