Photo by Dennis Andersen
          Who is Reverend Stickman? He’s a self taught guitarist, singer, and songwriter with a story to tell. His riffs will melt your face off and move you into a whole new world of music. He’s quite the traveling man, having been born in Denver, Colorado and eventually leaping thousands of miles and an ocean to move to Germany with his family in 1976 and returning in 1979 to North Carolina. At age 16 he decided he needed adventure and hitchhiked from North Carolina the Flagstaff, Az. In 1984 he moved to Seattle, WA for several years before returning to North Carolina in 1997. In 2002, he once again made his way across the country to end up here in beautiful San Diego.

          I first heard Reverend Stickman’s wailing guitar riffs in 2003. At the time he was playing with cover band Point Blank going by the name Stickman. Reverend Stickman has been a featured artist in the San Diego Reader on more than one occasion, is sponsored by Taylor Guitars, and has been nominated three times at the San Diego Music Awards. He can be heard during The Homegrown Hour with Cathryn Beeks on 102.1 KPRI, during the Local Hour on FM 94.9, and occasionally on NPR.  He also won Best song of 2011 from San Diego Song Writer’s Guild for his song “Drinkin Bout Tomorrow”. I asked The Rev. (as people in the scene call him) some questions about his time as a musician, his new album which will be released in summer 2012 and of course the origin of his name.    

Time Machine - Reverend Stickman

            We got a chance to catch up with Nico Rivers, a folk solo singer and songwriter who brings his roots from the Northeast to Los Angeles, where he’s currently brewing up his upcoming debut solo EP, Thicker Than Water.  Expect to hear personal and raw music recorded at home with a few guitars and a kick drum that’ll take you to the northeast sandpits, throwing molotovs at wrecked car whilst enjoying a bottle of whiskey. We had a chance to pull at Nico River’s heartstrings as we talked about where his sound comes from.

Tunage: You’ve traveled a lot as a songwriter and solo artist, how has that affected your work?

Nico Rivers: Well, I’ve seen a lot throughout America, I haven’t been out of the country yet. But, I’ve pulled influence from all over the place, from New Orleans streets to places like Native American ruins in New Mexico mountains, all the way up to Montana, and all that stuff is influential when it comes to writing my music. A lot of the scenery that I depict in my songs, the bayous, the mountains have all played a huge role.

T: Tell us a crazy story you’ve experienced in your travels.

NR: One time, my brother and I when we were in Longview, Texas, we were staying in this hotel room and we had all our gear in the car and we took our guitars inside. We got a phone call at 4 in the morning, so I hopped up and said hello, and no one said anything so I hung up. I thought it was strange, but I went back to sleep thinking someone probably just had the wrong number. About two minutes someone just pounded on our door. We had my brother’s dog with us, she’s a Boxer Pitbull, and she just hopped up and started barking. I jumped out of bed to see through the peephole to see who was there, but by the time I even got to the door there was a car in the parking lot just pulling out and speeding away. So we probably dodged a bullet there, who knows.

T: What part of the U.S. is your favorite place to perform and why?

NR: Anywhere that has a real stage. You know, it’s hard to pick a favorite place. One thing I’ve always loved about the Northeast (I grew up there) is that there’s this real authentic folk scene going on in the Northeast. While working at a radio station in Boston, I was lucky enough to experience a lot of it first hand, recording a lot of great acts coming through. Growing up with that, that’s always been so influential for me, and it’s always a blast to play in your hometown. Playing in Boston in particular, I love the whole Northeast in general.