Nikki Hill performs Friday at the Gas Lamp.
Nikki Hill brings electrifying sound
Published on December 17th, 2013 | by Joe Lawler
“The Staple Singers meets AC/DC.”
It’s not easy to sum up Nikki Hill’s style of music, but that’s her attempt on the singer’s Facebook page. Just when you think she’s hit a soulful groove, out comes a vocal growl that’s closer to Wanda Jackson. But at its heart, Hill has a much simpler term for her music.
“For me, I would just call it rock and roll,” Hill said during a phone interview. “It identifies as much to me as blues and soul and just connects them all. Me and the band play little parts of everything, but I like saying it’s just rock and roll. There it is. You show up and hear great soul sounds and great blues sounds and know that it’s going to work. If something has a lot of soul and energy, to me that’s rock.”
Last week Hill returned from a tour of Europe, which included a two-week run of sold out shows in Spain. She’ll play the Gas Lamp Friday.
She’s had a busy year promoting her debut album, “Here’s Nikki Hill.” It follows a self-titled EP in 2012 and includes all the songs from that release.
Hill said there was also some evolution in the band’s sound between the EP and full album.
“Whatever happens in between recordings can influence you, and that’s definitely a good feeling for me,” Hill said. “We traveled a bit, have done more shows and got more comfortable with the music and with each other. At that point we could really experiment and become more of a root rock band and play with all the sub genres of that. Even by the next album we’ll probably sound different again.”
Hill believes Friday will be her first time performing in Iowa, but she is a lot closer to Des Moines than she used to be. Hill grew up in Durham, N.C., but she and her husband Matt Hill (who plays guitar in Hill’s band) recently moved to St. Louis.
Hill and her band are known for their electrifying live shows. She said the whole process is a give and take with the audience.
“We give them our energy, especially when we have an audience that gives it back,” Hill said. “We definitely pick some up-tempo songs to pump up interaction with the crowd, and once we get it out there it seems like the energy becomes a circle of its own.”
This fall Hill released a collaborative EP with the St. Louis musician Deke Dickerson, “Soul Meets Country,” and moving into 2014 she plans more touring to promote “Here’s Nikki Hill,” more writing and eventually more recording.
“We plan to just keep getting our music out to the world,” Hill said. “The plan is to just be a band. I’ve finally got a full, solid group, and we’ll just keep going from there.”
When: 9 p.m. Friday
Where: Gas Lamp, 1501 Grand Ave.