Exploring Entertainment in Florida's 850 & Beyond
Gary Nichols was the winner of the second annual Battle of the Balladeers – a songwriter competition in Panama City Beach.
“If I had to define myself I tend to say Americana – but I’m not even sure what that means,” Gary admits of the growing subgenre of music. “It is sort of a catch-all. When I first came across it I thought it might would be good – but I don’t know…”
“I do kind of think of myself as a songwriter who had to learn guitar and sing well enough that I could put myself songs out there in a light where people would accept them and find them accessible. So often, people think that having a great song – and how well they preform it is really immaterial.”
“I have am fortunate to have some really good friends who are straight up with me,” Gary says of his growth as a performer, “they give me good, solid feedback. I’ve had to learn to be better at the guitar than I was when I was a kid.”
Gary – who now is a band instructor – took up the trumpet in the fourth grade before he reached for a guitar, then onto the cello, piano, and a few other surprises. “About 15 years ago I took up the fiddle and even played in a Civil War Reenactment band for a number of years – and that was a lot of fun.”
“I played for a while all through college and then had kids and really didn’t have a chance to really do it. Then in the last ten years of so, I realized that time is kind of fleeting and that I needed to get back at it – that I really missed writing. I wrote a couple of simple songs – and really liked them a lot. “
Although Gary has home-produced recordings online, he says a full-fledged album would be ‘a validation.’ “I would like to have an artifact that can be played and sounds good – and puts my music in the best possible light. It is a matter of finding a way.”
He has been a performer in downtown Panama City’s Music Matters movement – using those performances as a means to feel more confident, saying it “really offers you a way to hone your skill. I feel like everyone benefits from it. And everyone benefits from the exposure.”
As far as lifetime goals? “I think every songwriter would like to have at least one of their songs to be kind of adopted into American culture – as part of everybody’s cultural memory. But it would be great to have a song – just remembered by someone.”
Gary would also like to make sure that Kc Phelps and everyone involved with the Battle of the Balladeers know that he appreciates their time and efforts to supporting original area talent.
Give some of Gary’s tunes a spin at http://www.reverbnation.com/garywnichols
See more photos from the Battle of the Balladeers on our Facebook.