NPR Music story by Kara Frame
In a sparse, dimly lit Austin office building, Carl “Buffalo” Nichols stands in front of the mic stand with his steel guitar. As he finger picks into the first song “Living Hell,” the stark surroundings are juxtaposed against the warmth of his raspy vocals.
He performs his Tiny Desk (home) concert solo, a testament to the engaging storytelling of the blues, a genre he reclaims on his self-titled debut album. In his three-song set, Nichols sings about not making it into heaven, living in hell and the life of someone who is lost and lonesome. But these aren’t your run-of-the-mill, down-and-out blues songs – Nichols is adamant about making the genre current and making it Black again. Originally from Wisconsin, he mentions that he moved to the Austin, Texas music scene at the beginning of the pandemic, a fitting preface to his next song that starts with, “If you see me in your town, looking tired with my head hanging down / You may wonder what went wrong, why am I always all alone.”
- “Living Hell”
- “Lost & Lonesome”
- “These Things”
- Buffalo Nichols: vocals, guitar
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