On the Verge: Nico Rivers

SAM_7130Nico Rivers, the self-described one man band and Emerson alumni, stopped by the WERS studios to play, not one, but two songs from his latest EP, To The Bone. A native of Marsh Field, Massachusetts’ shore line, Rivers has slowly built up his own brand of unique, bluesy-inspired folk music. A few years ago, Rivers moved out to sunny LA and made it his home-base. Originally part of a group called Pine Mountain Casket, Rivers decided to strike it out on his own. He stated that his song were originally written to be played by a full rock band, so he decided to forgo forming a new band and decided to take up the challenge of accompanying himself. For his in-studio performance, he decided to use an acoustic guitar, a harmonica, and a light kick drum.

He started off with the song “Molotovs and Medicine”, the second track off of his new EP. The song begins with a softly picked intro before launching into a bluesy sounding vocal melody complete with appropriate harmonica accompaniment. With lyrics based on the decadence of the rock ’n’ roll life style, Rivers slyly crooned the words “It was so much easier when we got our thrills off of molotovs and medicines, so much easier to let all the days slip away, ooh there goes another one”. Rivers impressively displayed full control over his array of instruments and a dynamic quality to his vocals.

His second song was, “Birds In Trees (or the Solid Ground)” which was a bit more melodic, less aggressive and more laid back. He threw in a nice, jazzy chord progression for added leisure, displaying his masterful ability to showcase a range of emotions and feelings throughout his songs. Despite the confident song structure, Rivers still falls back on some untied and unsure emotions. “Maybe someday I will figure out, what it is that we could talk about… I’d give you my name but I forgot my mouth”. Delightfully sunny riff is also thrown in throughout the majority of the song along with a nice, happy little segment of whistling that really helped convey that sunshine attitude and had shades of Andrew Bird.

Not only a great musician, Rivers is also generous. His newest EP is being offered through a company called Reverb Nation, who have recently teamed up with Oxfam America. On his website, he states that “what really drew me to Oxfam is that fact that they hope to create lasting solutions to major issues, instead of just ‘band-aiding’ the problem and letting future generations deal with them.” Currently, Rivers has two songs, “Black Roads” and “Guardian Satellite”, dedicated to the program with half of their overall profits going directly to Oxfam. You can also pick up his new EP, To The Bone, on Bandcamp in numerous formats. If you’re not quite convinced, head over to his website and grab a free download of the featured song, “Birds In Trees (or the Solid Ground)”.

By Stevie Dunbar
Photo by Madelyn Reese

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