116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
It’s hard to believe that it’s been five years since the prolific Danielle Nicole has released new material.
The charismatic blues vocalist/guitarist/bassist was slowed by the pandemic, life and well, death. Nicole's brother and former Trampled Under Foot bandmate Kris Schnebelen succumbed to cancer in 2022. Nicole also has focused on raising her two young sons, ages 7 and 11.
“It’s been awful losing my brother,” Nicole said by phone from her Kansas City home. “But it’s been a tough time for everyone. Since 2020, it’s been a huge adjustment for me and the world.”
What: Danielle Nicole, with support from Brandon Miller Band
Where: Wildwood Smokehouse & Saloon, 4919 Walleye Dr. SE, Iowa City
When: 8 p.m. Jan. 12, 2023
Tickets: $18 to $30, wildwoodsaloon.com/
Nicole, who will perform Jan. 12 at Iowa City’s Wildwood Smokehouse & Saloon, is normally on the road for half of the year.
“The only thing that keeps a touring musician like myself from playing out is a pandemic and death,” she said. “Fortunately, I've been on the sidelines due to the pandemic, not death. I’m alive and I get to do my thing.”
Nicole, 40, is in the process of mixing her forthcoming album, as yet untitled. The project will drop at some point in 2023. Expect her to release singles in January and February and to preview some of the fresh material at the Wildwood concert.
“We’ve recorded 10 originals and one cover for the album, and I’m excited about playing the songs,” she said. “Come out and have a listen, and you’ll hear what you can look forward to. I’m so glad to finally be out on the road, but I did love being at home.”
The pandemic worked out for Nicole, since she spent time with her sons.
“They were always out on the road with me until they hit a certain age and it was time to go to school,” she said. “They can't miss out on education. So I got to be a full-time mama, and it was awesome. My kids loved it. It all worked out.”
After spending a decade with her brothers Kris and Nick Schnebelen in Trampled Under Foot, Nicole released an eponymous debut EP in 2015, after the group splintered.
Nicole followed with a pair of potent and poignant albums, 2015’s “Wolf Den” and 2018’s “Cry No More.”
“I’ve worked hard to establish myself with those albums,” she said. “But it’s a labor of love. I can’t ever complain, since I get to write and play songs for a living.”
Blues are infused through her music, but she’s not a traditional player. However, she is all about keeping the blues alive. Nicole has been encouraged by what she has witnessed over recent years.
“The cool thing is that more young people than ever are at our shows,” she said. "Kids are coming up to me after the show and they’re telling me how much they like the blues. I think it’s a direct result of younger people getting sick of this manufactured music from the machine.
“The cool thing is that a lot of the younger crowd are getting more exposed to amazing blues artists like Gary Clark Jr. and Kingfish. Those guys bring an edge to the blues that make it fun for young people. There’s this awful stigma that the blues is old, sad and tired music but it’s not,” she said. “It’s celebratory.”
Nicole became hooked courtesy of her father, Bob Schnebelen, who is a blues musician.
“My dad really got into Johnny Winter,” Nicole said. “Then he found out who Johnny Winter was into, and that was Muddy Waters. So we all started listening to Muddy Waters albums and it was the blues for our family.”
Now Nicole is passing along her love of the genre to her children.
“They love it,” she said. “Guitar-driven music is great. It’s tougher for some kids since they’re used to immediate gratification, but some things are worth the effort, and the blues is one of those things.”