Dwight & Nicole
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Dwight & Nicole

Burlington, Vermont, United States

Burlington, Vermont, United States
Band R&B Soul

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"Dwight & Nicole are a refreshingly honest act that moves from R&B to silky soul, with hints of rock, gospel, and swampy blues. The music is diverse, but it all fits seamlessly on this strong new disc. It’s a tour de force that demands much wider success. ...poignant...hard driving... and heavenly"
- Steve Morse, The Boston Globe


Steve Morse

“A bright new face on the scene, Dwight Ritcher plays a lively, fan favorite brew of rock and blues" - Boston Globe


"There are good voices and then there are great voices. Nicole Nelson is definitely the latter" - Christina Aguilera - The Voice


""Nicole Nelson's command of stage and audience is absolute (to say nothing of her tremendous voice) and Dwight Ritcher squeezes blues, soul and swamp sounds out of a heavy metal guitar, for Christ's sake. They are memorable on sight, regardless of sound. But there is a lot more to it than presentation. A lot more. The blues cats, soulsters, songwriters, rockers and pop fiends all admire what D&N do because they do all of that expertly, and then some...I've been asking people on the scene...who they think is making the best music and who seems poised to take that next step toward the big time. I've asked these questions across genres—from blues and soul people and into rock and pop—and the one name that comes up across the board is Dwight & Nicole. "
- Mike Mellor - The Killing Floor


"This Brooklyn-based duo's songs cull inspiration from a broad musical palette: folk, blues, soul, jug band, Afrobeat, and pop. Guitarist and co-vocalist Dwight Ritcher is an unusual sight... He plays a Flying V, a guitar usually associated more with the likes of Megadeth and Metallica, not folk musicians. But Ritcher and gorgeous, dusky-voiced singer Nicole Nelson lay down sultry soulful music. Nelson also adds rhythm, beating out circular country-blues time signatures, either on tambourine or with a sharp tap of her foot. Ritcher occasionally takes over on lead vocals, and the pair's harmonies are sublime, making for an earthy, retro-soul sound. " - Linda Laban, BOSTON GLOBE


"Nicole has a gift far & beyond what most people have" - Adam Levine - The Voice


By Dave Madeloni


As solo artists, Nicole Nelson and Dwight Ritcher are both vibrant live performers — as those of you that have seen them fronting their bands at Club Helsinki in the past can attest — who have found that when they combine their talents, there is a combustible musical reaction.
The two — who will share the stage at Helsinki tomorrow night — were just out of college when they met on the Boston music scene about seven years ago and found a shared affinity for blues and soul. Eventually, Nelson and Ritcher became fans of each others' projects and subsequently, each moved to New York in the fall of 2004 to start a fresh direction. In an e-mail interview during a tour through Vermont, Ritcher recalled the beginnings of their partnership.

"We both started out playing solo spots in the New York scene at places like the Living Room, the Cutting Room and the Knitting Factory. Often we would share bills the same night and we'd have each other up to play as guests. I'd have Nicole up to play on my song "Move Right," and she'd have me up to play on her song "Carribean Song."

"The response from fans was overwhelming." said Ritcher. "We both did really well individually, but once we hit the stage together our chemistry was undeniable."

Ritcher passed the laptop to Nelson, who concurred. "Dwight and I both have very strong musical identities — our personalities come through no matter what situation we are in," she said. "Fortunately for us — we have very similar rhythm, taste and styles. Our symmetry when we are onstage has been there from the very first time we played together years ago and is pretty effortless."

Like a winning NBA backcourt, Ritcher and Nelson both raise their games when they get to play together. "I get up there with Dwight and I feel like I'm more myself than when I'm playing with anyone else," said Neslon. "So fans of Dwight still get Dwight ... and my fans still get me — only better."
- The Berkshire Eagle


"Dwight Ritcher & Nicole Nelson riveted the crowd with rich harmonies, R&B sugared melodicism, and aching lyrics"  - The Boston Globe


by Jay N. Miller

July/August 2006

Both Dwight Ritcher and Nicole Nelson proved long ago that they could wail the blues with anyone.

Now, they’re trying to seduce listeners with a more subtle, scaled down, but no less feisty blend of blues, jazz, soul, gospel and pop.

Dwight Ritcher’s guitar skills were evident early on, and the New Jersey native led a rockin’ blues band that delighted New England audiences for years before he downshifted into a role as a more subtle, quiet, jazz-inflected artist. Brooklyn native Nelson burst onto the Boston blues scene as a young diva capable of Shemekia Copeland-like power, but with an Aretha-like soulful side, too.

Now both musicians have evolved into a duo that is standing New York City on its ear. With Ritcher’s minimalist gift for nuance and phrasing, and Nelson’s ability to cover every vocal angle from Norah Jones to Ruth Brown and back again, the Ritcher/Nelson duo has become an unlikely buzz band in the Gotham City.

So how did a blues guitarist with jazzy leanings connect with an energetic blues singer who’d made her name with her superbly dynamic shows?

We had always been fans of each other’s projects,” said Ritcher, on a recent trip to Boston. “This just started out as an experiment, booking a couple of gigs together, in Vermont on weekends. We just performed blues tunes we both loved. Then it grew into writing songs together and took on its own identity. She began playing tambourine, and with me on guitar, playing a bass line too, it became a pretty formidable two-man band.”

“It was a pretty organic process,” said Nelson. “It was an informal thing at first, simply because we were both in New York City, and knew each other from Boston. There isn’t much money to go around for bands in New York, so we decided to try some things with just the two of us. People began freaking out almost immediately and wanted CDs of us together. We only had our individual CDs at that point, but we eventually put our own EP recording together, just so we had something to sell at our shows.”

It didn’t take long for Ritcher and Nelson to earn some serious support, and some notable fans.

“We were lucky enough to get high-profile attention right away,” said Ritcher. “Agents began calling, and we ended up opening two shows for Dr. John and one for Maceo Parker at a blues festival, within our first three months. It was very encouraging, and we felt good about this project. Our harmonies and voicings are very appealing to me, and the songs and ideas, and the way we improvise together definitely felt great. This is what I want to be doing, and to get such validation so early was really rewarding. I think what I had been doing myself, as on my Radioman album, was jazzier stuff. This work with Nicole is maybe closer to the blues, with pockets of other stuff, but more rootsy as a whole. I’m someone who doesn’t like boundaries, and there is a lot of flexibility here.”

“Is it a logical step?” asked Nelson. “I don’t know, but I change a lot, and hear a lot, and tend to go from one musical phase to another. The key for me is that I have to feel it, and with so many different influences—pop, jazz, R&B, country, and hip-hop, it all becomes just a blend inside of me.”

“I loved the blues when I first started singing it,” Nelson explained. “I had never felt comfortable in the pop ballad category most people wanted to put me in, so the blues felt really good—a chance to stretch out. But I eventually outgrew straight blues covers, yet still wanted music with some freedom. My influences include a lot of things, from gospel to blues to pop to country now, but people still call me a blues artist. All those influences run so deep, it is hard to determine what should be the next logical step. That kind of decision never crosses my mind. I make my musical decisions more on the basis of, ‘Hey, I’m bored, let’s try this.’ I enjoyed this from the beginning, and when I started on tambourine, the tempos really picked up.”

“A really good part of this is that we can continually re-work songs,” Ritcher chimed in. “Like right now we’re doing a Jimmy Reed song in a whole new arrangement. This format allows us to keep things very open.”

But if the creative juices are flowing, the economic reality is that many clubs are closing and suffering from low attendance, and surely a two-person band isn’t exactly the dance-mania attraction a quintet might be. If Ritcher and Nelson gain more coffeehouse-type gigs, do they lose an equal number of classic roadhouse dates?

“We both have good relationships with many clubs and club owners all over the East Coast, due to our individual careers,” said Nelson. “That gives them the confidence that we can also do it with just two people. We have the luxury of their trust, and those previous relationships, that they know we can each draw a good crowd on our own, and together we are a good bet to draw a good crowd too. In Boston, I’ve been playing th - Boston Blues Magazine


Ted Drozdowski

"Soulful" and "enriching" describe the singing of Nicole Nelson. So do "expressive" and flat-out "beautiful." At 25, she already has a voice for the ages. - Boston Pheonix


Charismatic singer Nicole Nelson, and skilled guitarist and singer Dwight Ritcher both fronted popular New England blues outfits before they moved to New York, where they decided to reinvent their music by forming a duo who thunder fearlessly along a musical highway with stops for funk, rock, country and anything else that catches their fancy. - The Pheonix



Review: Dwight Ritcher and Nicole Nelson’s New CD a Diverse Treat for Everyone*

By Jonathan Swartz
2006.12


The music of Dwight Ritcher and Nicole Nelson is unpredictable and beautiful in scope, while incorporating varied musical styles suited to their strengths. Nelson is a blues singer in the tradition of Aretha Franklin and Natalie Cole, while Ritcher is more country than blues, but incorporates several styles into his singing and songwriting. Ritcher and Nelson, who both live in Brooklyn, New York, have collaborated on a previous CD collection, Nelson’s 2005 CD “Live at Club Helsinki,” a music club in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. While the previous collaboration featured many of Nelson’s original recordings, their newest collaboration “Dwight and Nicole” features something for everyone, mixing Ritcher’s country, folk style with Nelson’s rhythm and blues, and even though the collection is brief (only five tracks on the CD), it works, and is a heartwarming CD to listen to.

The first track, “Makes Me Lonely,” combines the techniques described above with a unique beat. It’s the kind of song innately perfect for a long drive either to work or around the country, with its smooth active rhythm. Nelson and Ritcher, unlike many duet recordings I am familiar with, share equal time in the song, and take turns singing lyrics together.

“Round in Love” is a standout track. It is mainly a showcase for Nelson’s beautiful, unique singing voice, and while very brief, captures her talents in a beautiful way that is reminiscent of other rhythm and blues singers of the period.




“Johnny Gets High,” is a harrowing portrayal of drug and alcohol abuse. Although beautiful, it brings the effects of tragedy back home, all the while featuring an exotic rhythm. Rather than romanticize, it educates listeners about the effects of drug and alcohol abuse and suggests that there is a solution to the problem.

The fourth track, “Everywhere I Go,” is a country ballad at heart, but combines elements of gospel music as well. This song illustrates Nelson and Richter’s striking, unique talents, as well as being a tale of romance and lost love. Combining Richter’s guitar with Nelson’s tambourine music, it suggests that many types of music—country, gospel, rhythm and blues—can be effectively combined together into one cohesive and beautiful melody.

The final track in the collection is “Move Right,” which is mainly a showcase of Ritcher’s talents. It is a melancholy, but lovely song that demonstrates what happens when two different styles are showcased with such a poetic tone that it leaves the listener wanting more. Though brief, it is worth listening to, especially in the evening driving home from work, or as a way to pass the time.

The talents and resulting collaboration of Ritcher and Nelson are as unique as music itself. I have seen them live several times now, and even though the compilation of songs on the CD is stunning, it only represents a sample of their exceptional talents. Ritcher usually plays the guitar and Nelson the tambourine. However, their act and instruments can vary from show to show, and generally only perform in small clubs in the Northeastern United States, but are worth seeing live if you can find them. The CD is a showcase of their talents, and demonstrates that they are an act to watch for many years to come. Let’s hope the masses do as well.

- Interference.com


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

Dwight & Nicole, an American roots band formed by recording artists Dwight Ritcher and Nicole Nelson are set to release their sophomore LP, the aptly titled Shine On, on April 22, 2014. An inspiring mashup of folk, blues, pop, jazz, gospel and reggae, the album can't be categorized easily, but that's fine. I don't like to be categorized...because I'm changing all the time. And in every moment, I'm a little bit different. And as I am feeling things, what I want to express becomes different. And I think our fans appreciate that honesty, says Nelson.

Recorded at Milt Reder's Rear Window Studio in Boston, Shine On was heavily funded by Dwight & Nicole's devoted fans via music-centric crowd-sourcing site, PledgeMusic.com. The album is a culmination of an exciting couple of years that saw Nelson appear on NBC's hit talent show, The Voice; chart a stirring rendition of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah at #24 on iTunes; and win a Boston Music Award for Female Vocalist of The Year. The duo's recent momentum also landed them on Boston Globe's 25 Most Stylish of the Year list, found them playing major festivals and performing at storied Fenway Park.

Dwight & Nicole's performances have inspired comparisons to some of the greats Etta James and John Lee Hooker, the Rolling Stones and the Staple Singers but it's their fresh blend of spirited blues, rock and gospel that is propelling them to make their own mark on the music world. They have performed at countless world class venues and festivals including Montreal Jazz Festival, Life Is Good Festival, Symphony Hall, Fenway Park, Levon Helm's Midnight Ramble, and The Blue Note in NYC, while sharing the stage with iconic artists such as BB King, Buddy Guy, Dave Brubeck, Dr. Maya Angelou, Mavis Staples, Ray Lamontagne, Trombone Shorty, Levon Helm, Norah Jones, Dr. John, Wynton Marsalis, The Avett Brothers, Chuck Berry, Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Irma Thomas.

The songs are inspired by our love together and trying to look at the world's bright side, says Dwight. It's not about the bright lights/big-city lights. It's about the inner light, adds Nicole. Or as producer Milt Reder says, There's a spirituality to it without it being heavy-handed. It has a lot to do with the way their relationship is. Look for Dwight & Nicole's newest release, Shine On, on all major digital platforms starting April 22, 2014.

Band Members