Nicole Vaughn And Her Lovely Band
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Nicole Vaughn And Her Lovely Band


Band Americana Folk


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Nicole Vaughn and Her Lovely Band can be seen performing on many stages across Orange County. We sit down and talk to Nicole about her music, her pet peeves, and what she absolutely cannot live without. Watch video interview!

Monday, April 2nd marked the beginning of this month’s residency at Santa Ana’s underground music haven, the Constellation Room. After blowing up his residency last month, Micah Brown made a lasting impact on the venue and brought it to new heights. He helped build the reputation that there will always be great music and great company at the Constellation Room on Monday nights. The trend continues still with this month’s residents, Nicole Vaughn and her Lovely Band and Moostache. That’s right, there is a tag team of two serious bands to tackle the April residency. The team kicked off the month strong by sharing the stage with special guest Yellow Red Sparks. It was an evening dedicated to alternative rock music in the form of acoustic, indie, blues, rock-a-billy, and pop varieties.
Yellow Red Sparks opened the night with their acoustic take on alternative indie rock. Playing as a three-piece, the group had a full sound complete with dynamic vocals, great harmonies, and all around well-tuned musicianship. They performed the whole night with acoustic instruments from an upright bass, banjo, drum kit, and acoustic guitar. Awesome! There were no effects used here and almost no need for the PA either. In fact, the band performed a song unplugged, during which the lead singer stepped in front of the microphones and thoroughly entranced the audience. It was an impressive effect which showcased the raw talent of the band and its members.
Nicole Vaughn and her Lovely Band followed Yellow Red Sparks and lifted the energy of the night with their five-piece set up. The band was composed of a drummer, a guitarist/vocalist, a bassist/vocalist, a percussionist/vocalist, and Nicole, who played rhythm guitar and sang lead. As can be seen from the lineup, nearly every member in the band sang, and by sang, I mean sang well. They had a very versatile sound which touched genres from blues, to folk, to rock-a-billy, to country. The band was tight, energetic, a lot of fun, and I look forward to seeing them again next week.
The closer of the night was Moostache. Their energy was high and execution was flawless. At the beginning of the set, I was looking for a female vocalist on stage, but I couldn’t find one. Then, as the set continued, I started to think that the vocalists were using one of those new fangled voice modulators that make harmonies or transpose notes to higher steps and octaves; again I couldn’t find one. Finally I realized that these seemingly abnormal high notes were coming from front man and lead vocalist Patrick Wardell. He had one of the most impressive ranges I’ve seen in the local community; he was able to sweep through the scales effortlessly. His range was comparable to the front man of the Mars Volta, Cedric Bixler-Zavala; however, I need to clarify that I am referring to a similarity in range, not style. The band sounded as if The Strokes and Cedric teamed up to create a new sound of alternative pop rock indie music which resulted in a rich and refreshing production. Another noteworthy feature about the band was drummer Brian Wardell. Yes these two are brothers along with the bassist and backing vocalist, Sean Wardell. Brian was one of the busiest drummers I have seen in this genre. He had impeccable speed and finesse as he flew across his kit while he tied down the rhythm section. They were full of life and enthusiasm and put on a great, energized show. Unfortunately, they will be touring next week and won’t be at next Monday’s show, but Charity Swim will be subbing in to carry on the month.
This is sure to be an exciting residency and more special guests are going to make appearances.
The supporting acts for the residency are as follows:
April 9th w/ Jeramiah Red, Incan Abraham, and Charity Swim (substituting for Moostache)
April 23rd w/ Nilu and The New Limb
April 30th w/ Seasons and Midnight Hour
We will be covering the residency in its entirety and I urge you to come to one, if not all, of the remaining shows. Long live the OC underground. - Music in Press Magazine

Nicole Vaughn & Her Lovely Band
Nicole Vaughn's career picked up steam in 2011 with the addition of a full-live band and the release of her best album to date, Say It. The album was partially produced by Kelly Winrich of Delta Spirit and features hyper-personal lyrics that are extremely relatable. They touch on broken families ("Everything We've Built"), classic literature like Lolita ("Too Young") and Farewell to Arms ("Soldier") and broken hearts (uh, pretty much everything else). Her next release, will be the first recordings with "Her Lovely Band."

Her Lovely Band are the ship that keeps her afloat in a sea of singer-songwriters. Drummer Garrison Giali and guitarist Kris Butcher come from a punk background and give their act an an essential extra punch. Husband Dylan Bowes and backup vocalist/percussionist Eli Balmer complete the band's sound. Fans still mourning the breakup of Rilo Kiley can find solace in Nicole Vaughn & Her Lovely Band.

They're nominated for Best Country/Americana in the 2012 OC Music Awards and received a nomination for Best Folk in 2011. We named them Best Folk Act in our 2011 Best Of issue. - OC Weekly

By TAYLOR HAMBY Thursday, Sep 29 2011

Nicole Vaughn has the kind of stage presence that transcends the roar of late-night bar chatter. Her voice—mighty and sincere at the same time—quiets down the buzz in local venues and surprises audience members into listening intently. The petite blonde is in her early twenties and recently added a full band to her act; it has boosted her from the realm of coffee-shop singer/songwriter to a folk force to be reckoned with. This year, the Laguna Niguel resident released her second album, Say It, produced by Kelly Winrich (Delta Spirit), and received a Best Folk nomination from OC Music Awards.
OC Weekly: What's it like singing hyper-personal songs onstage?

Nicole Vaughn: Definitely frightening. Especially when I play "Everything We've Built"—that's the most personal. It's about my family. I hope I don't hurt other people when I sing these songs. I'm a quiet person, and I don't share my personal life in conversation, so putting it out in a song is, like, the same thing. It's scary, but I wouldn't play it onstage if I weren't ready to.

Why is it scary?

It makes me vulnerable to have a song that someone can pick apart when it's your soul that's put into it. If you were ever to get negative feedback, that would be pretty hard to hear.

Why was "Say It" the title track?

For this album, there were so many sensitive songs that I was afraid to put out there, and I was like, "Whatever. Fuck it. I'm just going to put it out there, and if people don't like it, that is what it is. I'm just gonna say it."

Where do you get the inspiration for your songs?

It could be from my own story, relationships , family, or books. For "Soldier," I was reading Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms, and for "Too Young," I was reading Lolita.

Where did the idea for your album cover come from?

Camilla Behroozian did this album, Say It, and the Walk Into the Night cover also. This album was inspired by an art nouveau piece [Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen's Clinique Cheron]. It's a veterinary advertisement. I incorporated my dogs and my animals and guitar into it. I really love art nouveau, and it seemed to fit with the vibe.

Is there anything that has changed in your career over the past year?

Putting the band together. I've always wanted to play in a band; I never wanted to be the acoustic singer/songwriter. That's very limiting. I wanted to make a louder sound and be a little more rocking.

What's your goal in playing music?

I would love to be on a label and tour with bands I admire. If I could live off playing music, that would be amazing. Pretty simple. I don't want to be like Taylor Swift and play on a big stage; that kind of fame freaks me out. I just want to be able to create and write good music. - OC Weekly

I actually first heard about Nicole Vaughn when Jolyn, a reader, commented on one of my music posts about her. I went to her website to take a listen and I loved what I heard. A peaceful voice, relatable lyrics, and emotionally charged melodies are what make up her tracks. It just so happens that the singer/songwriter is also a huge Free People fan! She sent in an FPme photo that we recently posted on the blog (she’s the third one down). It’s hard to believe she’s not already a huge sensation. Nicole is one of the music scene’s best kept secrets that needs to be let out of the bag.

Nicole gladly answered a few questions for you all to get to know her better. She’s also made her song, “Stuck on You,” available for free download to you all! (Thank you, Nicole!) Read up on our interview with the inspirational woman and take a listen to her music!

Where were you when you wrote your first song?

I wrote my first official song on guitar at 13, I was sitting on the floor of my room with my guitar and a notebook of some poetry (not very good poetry), and sort of just started to put the pieces together.

What is your favorite song off of your most recent album, “Say It,” and why?

I think that my favorite song off of album would be “Everything We’ve Built” or the title track itself, “Say it”. These are the most personal and soul-bearing songs on the album and are extremely raw and honest in their story-telling and how I felt about the subject matter.

What is your picture of success?

Success to me would be to continue creating quality music and lyrics that I’m excited about and playing and collaborating with talented musicians that I admire. If I get some fans and make people smile, feel, connect, or dance along the way, I am happy. I’d also like to open for Wilco or Mason Jennings one day, but that might be pushing it ;)

What’s the last album you bought? What else is on your iPod right now?

I recently bought Paul Simons greatest hits, Dawes’ new album, and Barrett Johnson’s album “In Case I went Missing”. Some of my iPod go-to’s are: Mason Jennings, Neko Case, Cass McCombs, Alexander, Rolling Stones, Lissie, Muddy Waters, Bon Iver, Emmylou Harris, Loretta Lynn, Arcade Fire, Patsy Cline, Wilco, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Randy Newman, Sharon Van Etten…just to name a few! I love it all.

What is your signature look?

I’m not even sure, I think I’d have to ask someone else, hah! I just wear what I like and I’m comfortable in. Fancy stuff when I’m on stage, but lately off stage I’ve been really casual. I just like jeans, plain T, some turquoise or native american jewelry, and some boots. I like simplicity more and more these days.

What sort of hobbies do you have besides your music?

I love reading a good book, surfing, camping, going to shows, road-trips, hiking, running, rock-climbing, spending time with my pups, anything adventurous and spontaneous. I like to keep life interesting and unpredictable.

What is your favorite book?

East of Eden by John Steinbeck. I’m a big fan of Steinbeck.

One thing you cannot live without is?

Guitar. Or my wonderful mom. Or my dogs. I mean that’s a pretty tough question. haha

What does Free mean to you?

Free means having a free state of mind, not being confined by status quos or trends-free of influence, loving what you love just because YOU love it! Doing what you want, because it’s what YOU want to do. - Free People Blog

It’s only fitting that for my first interview I would find myself easing into the comfort that laces Nicole Vaughn’s voice a couple hours before she played one of her last shows for the year with Her Lovely Band at Santa Ana’s The Copper Door. While still new to her music, I found that her albums Walk Into the Night(self-released in 2009) and the most recent Say It (May 2011) have this subtle way of reeling you in, and just like a good glass of wine, they get even better the longer you let them settle and warm you from the inside. And though for the listener it’s an easy slip into the embrace of Nicole’s music, for the musician “it’s been a wild ride.”
This past year and a half has been quite different given the addition of band members and the release of Say It, which took “a year and a half to get it done” – a comment Nicole follows with “it was such hell.” All of that, let alone the amount of traveling, gigs played and planning for a new album that she and her band will be recording this upcoming summer. And after talking about the arduous searches for the right drummer and bassist, Nicole shares a little insight into her own start.

Nicole Vaughn. Photo by Chantel Donnan
Writing poetry at the age of thirteen (that age when many of us begin to find ways to express those amazingly angsty feelings) created the perfect transition to working on lyrics. It was when she began to listen to Jewel that she felt she could put all these outlets along with playing the guitar together. The first songs captured the “lonely girl that gets unnoticed,” and Nicole remarks with a soft laugh, “it was really sad.” It was these songs she performed for the first time, solo, at the age of sixteen in a coffee shop in Laguna Niguel.
After sharing teen angst and open mic memories, I just had to ask Nicole about her influences and what it was that helped mold her incredibly catching sound. Along with the likes of Bob Dylan, Gillian Welch, andMason Jennings, Nicole also mentions Neko Case– “she rocks out and she’s rad.”
While it’s definitely clear that it’s the “folky Americana” stylings that have influenced Nicole (especially in songs like “Temporary”), she isn’t simply a replica of the acoustic guitar, story-telling and occasional harmonica that can define the generation she feels so connected to. There’s something in Nicole’s lyrics and vocals that reminds me of that first cup of coffee early in the morning – soothing and inviting. And while the album Say It has great upbeat and humorous songs like “Suburbia,” Nicole shared that “my favorite song is ‘Everything We’ve Built.’” This song is truly reminiscent of the folk days that influence her work, and opens to the listener with such vulnerability and honesty that is key in her work, and something she executes with such ease.
Nicole Vaughn and Her Lovely Band have “worked [their] asses off,” hitting almost every venue in the O.C., working on a new EP and preparing for the next album. She’s “ready to take on the challenges” that come with songwriting with a group, a new frontier for Nicole. “That in itself is going to create a new sound.”
After their much deserved break over this December, they’ll begin a residency on Monday nights at Santa Ana’s Galaxy for the month of January. - Music In Press Magazine

Nicole Vaughn has all of the elements that make for a great folk act: introspective lyrics that explore the trials of the heart and societal ills; songs that can be done acoustically, with catchy riffs or upbeat and rock-steady; and, of course, with her petite stature, tousled blond hair and infectious smile, she's just adorable. The recent addition of a backup band and a solid new album have breathed new life into her career; Say It is a totally relatable set of songs that speaks of heartbreak without being shallow or commonplace. In 2010, her songs were prominently featured in the documentary Finding Kind, which screened as part of this year's Newport Beach Film Festival, among others. And she's constantly playing all over Southern California, which is truly a treat for those in the crowd who enjoy her energetic and touching performances. - OC Weekly

Here I am again, at the House of Blues in Anaheim, the venue that has allowed me to surf crowds to old-time legends and big-named rockers like The New York Dolls, The Buzzcocks, and The Bad Brains. But tonight I’m not about to “bring the mosh”, as they say.

Nicole Vaughn and Her Lovely Band meekly tower over the House of Blues crowd. Nicole is a lovely little lady with radiant golden locks, a flowing white dress, and a large acoustic guitar that she holds as if it were the only weapon of warfare she would ever need in a deadly battle. When Nicole and her band begin to play, the room rushes with vibrant vibrations, and an ethereal sound slips from her lips. You find yourself wondering: “how can such a gentle soul have such powerful command over the music that comes out of her?”

Not only are Nicole’s songs hauntingly beautiful, sending chills up the receiver’s spine, but they are energetic and lively. I promise you, you won’t be tapping your toes to this music—you’ll be stomping your feet and straight-up busting a move. Listening to Nicole makes you feel as though you’ve been transported to a different world…an older, simpler world. A world where people sleep under the stars and pick guitar creek-side. A world where folk and traditional American music is still at the forefront of entertainment culture.

But Nicole Vaughn and Her Lovely Band are anything but old. Quite the contrary. They are on the cutting-edge of the Orange County Americana music scene. Nicole and her band won “Best Folk Act” in the OC Weekly’s Best Of 2011 Reader’s Poll, and were the RadioFlag featured artist of November 3 through November 6, 2011.

Do yourself a huge favor and check out Nicole’s new album, Say It, and tune in to her on RadioFlag @NVaughn. - Radio Flag


Nicole Vaughn's solo album "Say It" (produced by Kelly Winrich of Delta Spirit) is available on iTunes and streaming at her website.

The new EP "(Almost) Live" by Nicole Vaughn and Her Lovely Band is available for free download at their Bandcamp site and is also available on 7" vinyl.



Nicole Vaughn began writing songs as a young teenager. She honed her skills as a songwriter and performed anywhere from house parties to coffee shops to NAMM. She put a band together in 2009 and they began playing bars and clubs all over Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego including, House of Blues, Observatory, Hotel Cafe, Detroit Bar, and many more.

Vaughn was influenced heavily by legends such as Mason Jennings, Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch, Loretta Lynn, Wanda Jackson, Wilco, Neko Case and others. This was the music of her soul. And yet her own sound was no mere rehash of these influences. Vaughn's music was accessible, startling, sincere, and sometimes painfully catchy.

But the band Vaughn compiled was far from homogenous. Kris Butcher and Garrison Giali (guitar and drums, respectively) were born and bred in the punk scene of Orange County and bring a certain grit and attitude to both their playing and their stage presence. Bassist Dylan Bowes reigns in the diverse musical elements of each band member and helps maintain a cohesive but unique sound. Eli Balmer's strong vocal presence and command of her percussion instruments brings spice to the soundscape.

Some accomplishments include Nicole's solo music being featured in the award winning 2010 documentary "Finding Kind", playing for Martin Guitar Co. at NAMM in 2009 and 2010, the band being named best Folk act of 2011 by OC Weekly, playing at the 2012 Orange County Music Awards and also winning the 2012 Orange County Music Award for Best Country/Americana. Nicole's voice has also been featured in licensing opportunities for companies such as McDonald's.