Nick Boettcher
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Nick Boettcher

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The best kept secret in music


"Cue Q&A"

Play, lady, play

Musician Nick Boettcher brings his six-stringed grande dames to Peoria

Thursday, January 6, 2005

Many nights, Nick Boettcher has a choice to make.

Isabella or Eleanore?

It's not what you think. Boettcher, a 21-year-old Peoria native, is a student at Boston's prestigious Berklee College of Music who spends his time away from school wielding a guitar at blues- and rock-oriented gigs. At rowdy shows, Boettcher uses his electric guitar, which he's dubbed Eleanore. For other sets, he switches to the acoustic model, Isabella.

You can bet there will be plenty of electricity (and Eleanore) when Boettcher takes the stage at 9 p.m. Saturday at the Red Barn, 621 W. Glen Ave., Peoria. But before then, Boettcher had to explain just what's going on with those axes in this week's Cue & A.

- Brad Burke

Why is it that musicians only seem to name their guitars after little old ladies?

I think for most of the people who play guitar, there's an emotional connection there. I've had my guitar for a long time, and we have a relationship. Not like a romantic relationship, but ...

Well, that's a relief. You had me worried there.

Oh, no. Not into that. (Laughs.) But there is a relationship there. I think people tend to choose older women's names because no one has those names anymore. You can't name your guitar after a girlfriend or someone who could become your girlfriend. That could be dangerous.

You recently earned a spot in February's International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn. Has the potential of that opportunity hit you yet?

Oh, absolutely. I'm more of a diverse musician than just blues, but blues is where my heart is and where I started, and I'll always be influenced by it. ... Being there, obviously, could be an enormous boost for my career. My ultimate goal is to get my music listened to by as many people as possible.

Berklee is home to some of the best musicians in the country. Does the pressure ever intimidate you?

It is very nerve-racking to see all those people who are just phenomenal beyond belief. So, for my first year, I was very self-conscious. But then I came to realize that they were no better or worse than I was. ... If you do something well and you're confident in that, people respect you. ... They really do respect honest musicianship.

What do you think of mainstream radio these days?

I think there's some really horrible stuff out there, and I think there's stuff that gives me some hope. Not anything that blows me away or anything, but ... nowadays, so much has been done, it's hard to find stuff that's interesting and fun and creative.

OK, give me your New Year's resolution.

Oh, man. (Pauses.) To, uh, play as much music as I can, and to meet as many people as I can. It's pretty simple, but I can't think of anything else I'd like to do more.

- - -

Nick Boettcher will perform at 9 p.m. Saturday at the Red Barn, 621 W. Glen Ave., Peoria. For more information, consult - Peoria Journal Star

"Breaking Out - Peorian on the Way to Stardom"

Breaking Out!
Peorian on the Road to Stardom (cover story)

By Firestone Davis
River City Times

Born and raised in Peoria, Nick Boettcher was 13-years-old when he first laid his hands on a classical acoustic guitar he found in the closet of his parent’s home.
These days he prefers his ’62 reissue Fender Stratocaster amped up through a 4/10 DeVille, but the passion remains, expands, and escalates every waking moment.
This week, you can see him play at two venues: at The Silver Dollar in Peoria Heights on Friday, and at the Red Barn on Saturday. “I play in P-town every time I come home for whatever reason. Mostly on school breaks I get a few gigs here and there. My home away from home is the Silver Dollar in Peoria Heights. I have been jamming at that blues bar since I was 15 years old, and I love it every time,” he said.
This young guitarist/vocalist/songwriter has shown promise as years of choir and guitar lessons are starting to pay off. He learned to use the technical tools he has to create an expression through music that everyone can appreciate.
But first of all, Boettcher is a guitarist. He has his roots in the Blues, but his musical interests have expanded to include Jazz, Funk, R&B, Rock, Reggae . . . the list goes on.
Boettcher attends Berklee College of Music, the largest contemporary music school in the world. There, he studies guitar performance, the music business, and songwriting. He continues to study and will continue to do so to sharpen his skills.
“Berklee is the largest contemporary music school in the country. For those who do not know what that entails, we study every kind of music, from jazz to rock, blues, pop, funk, soul, R&B, classical, reggae, country, fusion, and the list goes on,” he said. “I am currently a junior and I major in Professional Music, a major that allows students to design a curriculum to fit their career goals if there is not a major already designed for their chosen area of study. My major consists of Business, Performance, and Songwriting classes. I applied to Berklee in 2001 and even earned the Best Student Entering Talent (B.E.S.T.) Scholarship . . .for some studio and live recordings I previously made. The school is amazing. It is the best way for a young musician to truly understand their craft inside and out. However, the school does not guarantee success. Many people think that if you attend Berklee, then you have made it and are instantly going to be a famous musician. The sad part is, Berklee has the highest dropout rate in the country. But if you have the drive and the ability; Berklee can give you the knowledge to get you where you want to be.”

Getting Recognition
Boettcher was selected to compete in February’s International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN. “The IBC was one of the most uplifting experiences I have ever had. Although I did not win at my venue, I scored very high. One of the judges even gave me all 10’s and said I was her favorite by far! This was a great honor and a privilege,” he said. “The man who beat me out, Scottie Miller, was a great guy and an outstanding pianist, vocalist, and songwriter and he deserved to move on to the finals. After the competitions, there were jams at the Juke Joints and Clubs all up and down Beale St. where I got to jam with the best-unsigned blues artists in the world. I even got to jam with legendary guitarist for Muddy Waters, Bob Margolin, and also W.C. Handy Award Nominee this year, Mookie Brill. I had great response from the audience as well as other musicians. I felt as though they respected me as a musician, and not as some hotshot looking to turn a few heads. It was a real honor.”
Now every time he plays, he packs the house. His refined show is a must-see. Boettcher’s music has depth and emotion that suggests universal experiences while still providing unique perspective. There’s a quiet truth and sadness lyrically, but a strength/perseverance in his guitar playing.
He has played for an audence of on, of 100, of 8,000, inside, outside, in a band, guest performing with a band, solo acoustic, solo electric, public functions, arena football games, benefits, and charity events.
While playing guitar remains Boettcher’s bread and butter, it has become increasingly evident that singing and songwriting are the main course and dessert. While a few musicians have gained prominence purely through their instruments, adding vocals and composition make up the trifecta of musical accomplishment.

In The Studio
He is currently working on material for a full-length album. “after the release of the album I will be setting up a tour to promote the album. The record industry doesn’t work how it used to. Today, record labels expect you to do everything on your own before you get signed. You have to release your own album, set up tours, create fan bases, start a buzz, and pretty much have everything set before they will even take a look at you,” he said. “A lot of people are angry at the record industry, but they are a business like any other. They have to do what makes money first so that they have the money to take the risks on the artists that they really love. Some think that the major labels are the devil out to eat your soul. I feel that “selling out” directly has to do with the sacrifice of your artistic integrity for fame or money. This does not mean that if you make money and gain fame that you have sold out. It just means that you have caught the right people’s attention at the right time. If I only sing McDonald’s jingles for the rest of my career, that may be a different story.”
Boettcher said he likes to keep tabs on Peoria’s local music scene. “I think there is a lot of promise out there. Peoria has an incredible amount of talent, but not everyone who has it knows what to do with it. I find that a lot of musicians get stuck in the same rut over and over again. Not enough people are writing and performing what they write. Granted, you have to put in those covers that everyone will dance to no matter what, but that does not mean that’s all you play. There are too many bands that don’t call themselves “cover bands” but only play tunes by other people,” he said. “When I cover a song, I like to think that I am putting my own spin on it, and that my choices of cover tunes are not the typical covers. If I play a song, I mean it, whether I wrote it or not. I don’t always feel that with local bands. This is not to say there are not great bands out there, but I think a lot of them are still in need of finding their own voices. They should experiment a bit more. And to those who do, I commend you. Keep up the good work!”

Local Favorites
He does, however, have his local favorites. “I have jammed with a lot of bands and performers in the area. I started out jamming with Dave Chastain. He gave me guitar lessons when I was just starting the electric guitar. I believe he has another album coming out very soon that sounds really great. I suggest you check it out,” he said. “Then there’s Rooster Alley with Boz, Tim, Danny, and Elliot. Those guys were also good to me, taking me under their wings and letting me jam out all the time. I also really dig Electric Child, a group of young musicians that I’ve jammed with over the years. They are one of those trying to take their music somewhere that nobody else goes around here.”
What kind of music does Nick like to listen to? “Wait, wait, wait. . .it’s not fair to ask for a favorite CD. That’s too tough. I’ve been listening to a lot of Stevie Wonder lately, as well as Ray Charles and Donny Hathaway,” he said. “But I would have to say the album that surprised me the most was Euphoria Morning by Chris Cornell. Very cool stuff.”
So what can you expect to se at the two shows this weekend? “This Friday at The Silver Dollar is going to be a blast. My band consists of Rob Gould, a Peoria native that is a freshman at Berklee and is an amazing drummer. Also, James Paul on bass, a groovy young man with chops like no other,” he said. “We will be playing originals, funk tunes, blues tunes, maybe a little reggae, some rock. Our sound is positive, yet still rockin’. Saturday is a different beast. I will be performing solo at the Red Barn much like I did in competition in Memphis. I will be doing a lot of my own tunes as well as some blues classics as well as some soul and some rock, so check it out.”
- River City Times


"Was It Worth The Trouble" - Nick's full-length demo featuring 10 tunes of acoustic guitar and vocals.

"Freezing Rain" - Nick's first single that he recorded when he was in high school. Hard-rocking and filled with loud guitars, this is a must-hear.

"Was It Worth The Trouble (live)" - Recorded live at the Silver Dollar in Peoria, IL, an incredibly depth-filled tune dedicated to artists everywhere. The guitar solo speaks for itself.

"A Smile Away" and "Was It Worth The Trouble" - These cuts were recorded in Boston, MA live in the studio to a 2 track. A modern songs with a raw, old-school style of recording.


Feeling a bit camera shy


Born and raised in Peoria, IL, this young guitarist/vocalist/songwriter has shown promise as a performer since he was in pre-school. When he was 13 years old, Nick found an old guitar in a closet of his home and started teaching himself. Years of choir and guitar lessons payed off. He learned to use the technical tools he gained to create an expression through music that everyone can appreciate.

He played at every opportunity: clubs, bars, coffee houses, public events, private parties, and the list goes on. Anywhere that people were willing to listen, he would play. Through constant performing, he refined his performance skills as well as his playing skills.

Nick attends Berklee College of Music, the largest contemporary music school in the world. There, he studies guitar performance, music business, and songwriting. He continues to study and will continue to do so in order to sharpen all his skills. Now every time he plays, he packs the house. His refined show is a must-see.

Nick's music has depth and emotion that suggests universal experiences while still providing unique perspective. There's a quiet truth and sadness lyriclly, but a strength/perserverance in his guitar playing.