Jersey Native Nicole Atkins: "Every Place That We Grew Up Going To Is Just Ripped Apart Or Gone."

Categories: Nicole Atkins


Before heading back into the studio to record her forthcoming album, Nicole Atkins packed up her guitars, her record collection and the rest of her apartment in Brooklyn and moved back in with her parents in Shark River Hills, New Jersey, about two months ago. Her three guitars found a new spot downstairs in the basement of the house she grew up in, and Atkins lugged one of the boxes of records upstairs to her bedroom. When word got around that a terrible storm was gunning for the East Coast last week, the singer-songwriter called home to check in with her folks only to hear the worst: the roads were flooding, the winds had revved up to 80 miles-per-hour gusts and the house next door was burning to the ground.

See Also:
- Possibly 4th Street: Nicole Atkins and the Sea
- Live: Bustle In Your Hedgerow, Craig Finn, Nicole Atkins, And More Pay Tribute To Levon Helm

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Live: Bustle In Your Hedgerow, Craig Finn, Nicole Atkins, And More Pay Tribute To Levon Helm

The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down: A Celebration of the Life and Music of Levon Helm. With Marco Benevento, Dave Dreiwitz, Scott Metzger, and Joe Russo (a/k/a Bustle in Your Hedgerow) and many others.
Brooklyn Bowl
Monday, June 4

Better than: Nothingness.

One of my favorite conversations with the late psychonautic writer Terence McKenna had to do with the evolution of psychedelic rock during the late 1960s. "Things seemed to be going along just fine," he once riffed to me. "The Rolling Stones came out with Their Satanic Majesties Request and the prospects for real psychedelic rock seemed limitless. And then the Band released Music From Big Pink, and everything seemed to go into reverse all at once." Even today, The Band's Canadian take on Southern culture has permeated our own cultural DNA as though it had been there all along. And with Levon Helm, the group's only Southerner, as its heartbeat and preeminent singer, perhaps it always had.

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Live: Jonathan Toubin's Friends Rally For His Recovery

Jonathan Toubin Benefit Show: Chain And The Gang, 5 Dollar Priest, Eleanor Friedberger, Nicole Atkins, Dorit Chrysler and theremin, Shilpa Ray, An American Dream, TWO TEARS
Music Hall of Williamsburg
Thursday, January 12

Jonathan Toubin plays rock and soul records, but unfamiliar ones, songs that have disentangled from the larger narrative. Simple, driving music, on its own. "The rock and roll people weren't dancing at all in New York at the time and the club people were just playing music I don't like," Toubin says in a short documentary about his DJ series, New York Night Train. So he found a space in the middle, playing unknown records so that people can newly resonate with them. "I really just want to play any kind of music that's really raw and immediate," he says in the same documentary.

On December 8, Toubin was scheduled to DJ in a southeast Portland club. That morning, a taxi cab crashed into Toubin's hotel room and pinned Toubin against a wall. Portland Officer Stuart Palmiter, interviewed by the Oregonian, described Toubin as "literally pinned under the front of the car."

He has since recovered, speedily—he was discharged from the hospital on Friday, and is reportedly far ahead of the pace doctors thought he'd take—and on Thursday night, friends of his in the music community threw a benefit show for him, complete with a raffle where one of the prizes was a portrait of the man himself.

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Possibly 4th Street: Nicole Atkins and the Sea

Categories: Nicole Atkins

Tonight, January 25, Nicole Atkins and the Sea headline the Bowery Ballroom. It is already sold out.

Bigger version after the jump

Possibly 4th Street

Episode Nine, Part One
Nicole Atkins and the Sea
Text and photos by Rob Trucks

No matter how much we’re tempted to romanticize, the major-label musician’s road is not all champagne, rosebuds and chatting up Slash backstage at Letterman. No, sometimes along the way there are obstacles like multiple moves (including nights on nasty mattresses) and trying to hold down a job without losing sight of your dream. And sometimes you get by with a little help from your friends. So while Nicole Atkins has danced with Lenny Kaye and downed tequila shots with Bruce Springsteen, if her music career has a guardian angel it’s very likely an Upper West Side entrepreneur by the name of Gustavo Szulansky.

On the last Thursday in November (not Thanksgiving, but the week after) we’re in Gustavo’s neighborhood. And though we’ve been in dog runs and back alleys, this is our strangest location yet. On the Upper West Side, on the second floor of a building, with fake Astro-Turf below and some glaringly harsh florescent lights above, we’re surrounded by a swarm of orange-shirted preschoolers, boys and girls, the tallest just about belt-high, and they’re chasing silver soccer balls. That is, when they’re not wondering what we're doing in the middle of their indoor field.

We’re here because of Gustavo, of course. I don’t know who’s doing who a favor – Gustavo for Nicole (again), or Nicole for Gustavo - but this is his all-ages, year-round, indoor soccer camp that started in his basement almost eight years ago.

“I met Gustavo at one of my shows,” says Nicole. “He came out to Piano’s during our residency, and after the show he gives me his card and he’s like, If you ever need anything, just call me. And I look at the card and I’m like, 'Super Soccer Stars?' Yeah, I’ll call you if I need soccer lessons.”

But Gustavo and his wife didn’t lose touch with the aspiring singer-songwriter. They took Nicole to lunch, for example, decided she needed a website and had one created for her.


And when Nicole found herself working long hours as a graphic designer for the smaller salary of a receptionist, Gustavo and his wife gave her a job.

“They were like, If you need work, you can work here. And since you’re getting courted by labels you can work here one day a week or you can work here seven, whatever you need.

“It was like really at a time when I really needed it. Like when I was super broke and getting fired from pretty much every restaurant in Manhattan. It really happened at the right time.”

And though Nicole has since moved back to New Jersey (Asbury Park, to be specific) and no longer puts in hours at Super Soccer Stars, that doesn’t mean the end of a relationship. Not at all. As she and three-fourths of the Sea stand in the middle of an indoor soccer field within a traffic circle of confused five-year-olds, at the end of the floor, behind some impressive netting, Gustavo Szulansky beams.

photo by Rob Trucks

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