Born in Cleveland and raised in Dayton, Ohio; Jared Michael Nickerson starting playing bass in high school talent shows as part of the legendary Dayton funk scene which spawned the Ohio Players, Slave, Roger Troutman & Zapp, Sun, Dayton, Steve Arrington’s Hall of Fame, Faze-O and members of Heatwave. He continued his musical development at the University of Notre Dame under the direction of Father Wiskerchen, noted for his development of three members of the band Chicago’s horn section; after graduating with a B.A. in Business Management, Jared then moved to Boston and studied for two years at the New England Conservatory of Music.
Returning to Ohio, Jared joined The Human Switchboard, where after three years of touring the Midwest & East Coast, moved with the band to New York City and immersed himself in it’s 80s music scene (Danceteria, Peppermint Lounge, Hurrahs, Maxwells, The World). After Human Switchboard dissolved Jared started his own band JJ Jumpers; eventually joined the Black Rock Coalition becoming the B.R.C.’s first Director of Operations and booked the BRC’s first two-day mini-fest at CBGBs entitled Stalking Heads. When he left the BRC, his position had transformed into an East and West Coast Booking Committee led by a select number of BRC bandleaders who had access to rock rooms all across the country.
As a sideman, Jared has played with The Roots, Katell Keineg, Marc Anthony Thompson, Catie Curtis, Marc Cary, John Paul Bourelly, The Raybeats and DJ Logic. He has toured and/or recorded with Melvin Van Peebles, Matt Johnson’s The The, Bernie Worrell, Wadada Leo Smith, Freedy Johnston, Vernon Reid (solo), The Yohimbe Brothers (Vernon Reid & DJ Logic), Gary Lucas’s Gods and Monsters & Jeff Buckley, Nona Hendrix & Billy Vera, Darlene Love & Lani Groves, Marshall Crenshaw, and Tammy Faye Starlite and the Angels of Mercy.
Nickerson co-wrote a tune, recorded and toured with blues great Charlie Musselwhite in support of “Sanctuary,” on Peter Gabriel’s Real World label. This CD found itself on numerous critic top ten lists at the end of the year and also received a Grammy nomination for best blues recording in 2004. His television appearances include Late Night With David Letterman, The Jools Holland Show, MTV, VH1, The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien, The John Stewart Show and The Kennedy Center Honors BB King Tribute Band, which included Bonnie Raitt, Dr. John, Etta James and the late Joe Williams. Jared also appeared in Nelson George’s “Finding The Funk” documentary.
Jared has toured extensively performing at venues such as the Toronto Skydome, the L.A. Forum, the Oakland Coliseum, England’s Brixton Academy & Reading Festival, The Beacon Theater, and Madison Square Garden.
Jared’s reflections on Band of Gypsys
I was a high school junior immersed in the Dayton Ohio Funk scene when Band of Gypsys’s was released. Dayton at the time was a very vibrant city blending a relaxed “down home” sensibility with a diversified manufacturing ( National Cash Register (NCR), Inland Steel, Mead Paper Company, Reynolds & Reynolds and a number of American car manufacturing plants) and military (Veteran’s Administration & Wright Patterson Air Force Base) workforce.
Hence, many two-headed households were earning a “nice penny” leading to a plethora of basements being converted to entertainment dens. With parents, including mine allowing us kids to play for hours on end in dens and living rooms around town, along with Dayton high schools possessing thriving music departments and presenting “talent shows” four times a year and churches featuring full bands for services, there were ample opportunities for us to hone our musical skills, perform and express our talent at a very young age.
There were certain songs you had to know to jam on the Dayton den circuit and when Band of Gypsys was released “Who Knows” and “Power of Love” were two of the “must have under your fingers” tunes.
“Power of Soul” in particular was revelatory as we would take each of the first four motifs and lay in each motif endlessly and groove. Groove was of utmost importance in Dayton and “Power of Soul” was pure groove so it was an immensely popular tune to jam on.
I’d like to also mention my fondness for Buddy Miles’ drumming and singing. Being familiar with him through his playing in Mike Bloomfield’s “Electric Flag” and the two “The Buddy Miles Express recordings “Expressway To Your Skull” and ”Electric Church” with the latter’s second side being produced by none other than … Jimi Hendrix. Buddy Miles was a bad, bad man … may he rest in peace.
Listening to “Are You Experienced” with Mitch Mitchell was mind-blowing, but the Band of Gypsys with the combination of Hendrix’s mind-altering playing grounded by Billy Cox and Buddy Miles’ rock and lock-it-in-the-pocket foundation provided the best mind, body, and soul vibration I had experienced at that time. The next instance where I was touched by a recording like the Band of Gypsys was the first, second and third time I listened to Herbie Hancock’s “Headhunters” with another stellar rhythm section … Paul Jackson and Harvey Mason.