Nikki started performing at the age of 4 dancing in recitals. Her father, Frank was a tremendous musical influence. As trumpet player with Stan Kenton the house was filled with the music of the Jazz greats. Nikki grew up singing along to the recordings of such artists as Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee and Billy Holiday.
Nikki’s greatest influences while living in the S.F. Bay area were artists like James Brown, Tina Turner and Janis Joplin. While developing her style, Nikki often supported herself as a professional model, actress and dancer. Nikki covers all the musical boundaries including Blues, Jazz, R&B, Standards and Rock. She has performed in numerous stage, video and rock productions and has choreographed Rock and R&B bands on both coasts.
Currently Nikki performs regularly with her bands ‘Whole Lotta Blues’(Blues, Rock, R&B), and ‘The Nikki Armstrong Project’(Jazz) as well as guest vocalist with top artists. She has been featured as a top regional act at Blues 2000 for 4 years running, The Bayou Festival and Central Park’s Summer Stage. She also holds the post of ‘Musician’s Liaison’ with the New York Blues & Jazz Society and can often be heard on WFDU radio. Nikki’s vocals, diversity, passion make for one of your most enjoyable musical experiences in years!
Nikki Armstrong - Vocals
Gil Parris - Lead Guitar
Stew Cutler - Alt. Lead/Rhythm Guitar
Rob Chaseman - Saxophones (all)
Keith Lambeth - Bass
Kenny Soule - Drums
Live at BB King's in NYC
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Nikki Armstrong March 05, 2004 New York Blues & Jazz Society ...
Nikki Armstrong March 05, 2004 New York Blues & Jazz Society
Nikki Armstrong can be a spontaneous and combustible entertainer. She can be like a hand-grenade with the pin pulled out. So let me say her performance at BB Kings on March 5th was explosive. Performance is by definition how we act in a crowd. Nikki always surrounds herself with the best musicians. This night her band “Whole Lotta Blues” included Michael “MT Pockets” Torres, Musical Director and guitar; Chris Carter, guitar; Michael Fossa, keyboards; Rob Chaseman, tenor sax; Ivan Bodley, bass; and Bernard Davis, drums. After a beautiful introduction from Larry Cerrone, Nikki began with Willie Dixon’s “I Just Want to Make Love to You” and set the pace early for what would be an energetic set. She told the women to watch out and sang the Betty Wright classic, “Clean up Woman”. She then slowed it down with her crowd pleasing version of Billie Holiday’s “God Bless the Child”, and then she revved it up again with Bill Withers’ “Use Me”. Lavelle White’s “Voodoo Man” followed and she closed with Stephen Still’s “Love the One You’re With”. Nikki’s set pleased the crowd of mostly tourists here to see “The Commitments”, an English cover band who reprised classic hits from the 50’s and 60’s. Nikki Armstrong can often be seen in Lucille’s located within BB King’s. She is the Musician’s Liaison for the New York Blues and Jazz Society a non-profit, volunteer organization that exists through membership and donations, dedicated to educating the public about blues and jazz music, and supporting area musicians who perform these important cultural genres. Richard Ludmerer, Director The New York Blues and Jazz Society http://nybluesandjazz.org/signup2.htm
Founding Editor of 'Rolling Stone'
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Nikki Armstrong at Mexicali Blues Cafe, Englewood New Jersey December 17, 2004 In the hot bright ...Nikki Armstrong at Mexicali Blues Cafe, Englewood New Jersey
December 17, 2004
In the hot bright stage lights, a tight-as-a-tick blues band laid down a rolling groove. Tenor sax player Rob Chaseman finished a chorus and pulled his mike up to chin level. "Okay, everybody, let's give a warm Mexicali welcome to a lady with a lot of class, you all know her, Nikki Armstrong!"
Out into the lights stepped a slender, good looking woman, bright eyes and a quick smile, long red hair flowing over her shoulders, a leopard skin jacket, long black gloves up to the elbow, and below a black miniskirt, long shapely legs and black high heels. As the applause settled down, Nikki fell into the band's dancing groove and took her mike from the stand.
"I don't want to you to be no slave, I don't want you to work all day," Nikki sang, her eyes taking in everybody in the house. Guitarist Mike Torres slipped in a bluesy bottleneck cry. 'I just wanna make love to you."
As the choruses rolled on, Nikki cast off her jacket, peeled off her gloves, and let fall a cobweb shawl of bangle-beads until she was dancing and singing in a sexy little black dress. "I don't want you to be sad and blue, I just wanna make love to you!"
The Mexicali crowd cheered as Nikki and the band brought the old Muddy Waters tune to a close. They know the blues at the Mexicali and they know that with Nikki Armstrong and the Whole Lotta Blues band--guitarist Terry Lee, bassist Keith Lambeth, and drummer Kenny Soule with Chaseman and Torres--they had the real blues in the house.
Before the applause fell to silence, the band rocked out and Nikki took charge again: "I'm a woman, I spell it W-O-M-A-N." Nikki Armstrong, who has been singing in and around New York for a decade and more, is a hardworking artist always digging deeper into her craft. Nikki loves music, studies music, and teaches music too. She knows how to put a good band together, and because she's fun to work with, she gets the best cats in the business. She loves to perform for the people and gives her all in every show. "Nikki is the most generous gal I've met on the blues scene," said one regular at the Mexicali bar. "You feel the love coming from her on stage, and off-stage she's always encouraging young singers, introducing a guitarist new in town to everybody. Nikki's always thinking of the other guy."
From "W-O-M-A-N" Nikki counted off a taut four-four, and the band jumped into "Hipshake"--"You don't move your lip, you just shake your hip"--and on to a soulfully sincere "Respect Your Self." The blues as Nikki sings them come mixed with jazz, pop, and folk rock--"Love the One You're With" was one of her best numbers that night at the Mexicali--and they come with dancing, Nikki, a big grin on her face, tossing her mane of hair and moving and grooving with the guys in the band as they take their solos.
Nikki has a warm, rich contralto voice that she colors over a wide spectrum from intimate growls and passionate whispers to long haunting, ballad lines. A sparkling sense of fun comes through Nikki's voice too: in the middle of a lyric, without losing a note, she can tell the audience to get off their butts and start dancing or say hello to a pal at the bar. She's also a singer who listens to her band, and half the fun of watching Nikki perform is seeing and hearing her react to drummer Soule's ferocious backbeat, Lambeth's rotund but agile bass, and Lee's driving rhythm guitar.
As the show rolled on, a few up-tempo tunes, more steady grooves, Nikki and Whole Lotta Blues held the crowd in the palm of their hands, and we were glad to be there. Outside was cold dark December, inside were warmth, lights, and a first class blues singer with her band laying the music on us like hot buttered rum. Nikki's smile, her shouts of pain and joy, and her blues songs old and new had drawn us all in to a circle of good times and affection none of us wanted to leave.
“Every day, every day," Nikki sang, "Every day I have the blues." Sing it, sister, ain't it the truth!
By – Michael Lydon
Founding Editor of ‘Rolling Stone’ Magazine and Author of “Ray Charles : Man and his Music”
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