Nicole Atkins Live at the Gild Hall
October 16 @ 8:00 pm - 11:00 pm$30.00
Arden Concerts is thrilled to present the transcendent voice of Nicole Atkins live at Gild Hall in Arden, DE Saturday, October 16th! Tickets on sale Friday September 17th at 10:00 am eastern. Proof of Covid-19 vaccination and mask required for admission. Members email us for a code:
In each song she creates, Nicole Atkins reveals her incredible power to transport listeners to a much more charmed time and space. On her new album Italian Ice, the New Jersey-bred singer/songwriter conjures the romance and danger and wild magic of a place especially close to her heart: the Jersey Shore in all its scrappy beauty. Inspired by the boardwalk’s many curiosities—the crumbling Victorian mansions, the lurid and legendary funhouse, the Asbury Park rock-and-roll scene she played a key part in reviving—Atkins ultimately transforms her never ending fascination into a wonderland of her own making.
“When you’re on the boardwalk there’s a feeling that anything can happen, and that’s the feeling I tried to create with this record,” Atkins says. “I wanted to give people something they can put on and buy into a fantasy that gets them excited about what might happen in their own lives.”
For help in capturing the shore’s kinetic spirit, Atkins assembled a studio band whose lineup feels almost mythical. Recorded at the iconic Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama, Italian Ice finds the Nashville-based artist joined by Spooner Oldham and David Hood (both members of The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, who played on classic records from the likes of Aretha Franklin and Etta James), Binky Griptite of The Dap Kings, Jim Sclavunos and Dave Sherman of The Bad Seeds, and drummer McKenzie Smith (St. Vincent, Midlake). With special guests including Spoon frontman Britt Daniel, Seth Avett of The Avett Brothers, Erin Rae, and John Paul White, the album is a testament to Atkins’s uncommon talent for uniting musicians of radically different sensibilities. “I just invited all my best musical friends to be there with me, and then we roped in Spooner and David too,” says Atkins, who connected with the two musicians after performing at Oldham’s birthday bash. “Musically, it doesn’t make any sense. But I’m a superfan of all of them, and we ended up with the weirdest, craziest band ever. It just became this awesome misfit party.
Co-produced by Atkins and Ben Tanner of Alabama Shakes, Italian Ice makes brilliant use of its A-list personnel, unfolding in a kaleidoscopic sound that Atkins likens to “an acid trip through my record collection.” At turns as opulent as symphonic pop and gritty as garage punk, the album wanders into shades of psych-rock and honky-tonk and girl-group melodrama, endlessly spotlighting the tightly honed musicianship and unbridled originality at heart of Atkins’s artistry. “I didn’t really censor myself much,” she points out. “Everything that felt good to say or hear or feel coming back off the speakers, I just went for it.”
Describing her time at Muscle Shoals as “like summer camp, but in the winter,” Atkins looks back on the recording process with deep fondness for the camaraderie she helped create among so many disparate musicians. During that time, the band stayed together in a nearby lakehouse, cooked breakfast for each other every morning, and spent their nights playing dice in a local bar. “This record taught me that making music for music’s sake and seeing what happens is where the good shit comes from,” she says. “I feel like I’ve written some of my best stuff just feeling happy and confident and enjoying the company of who I’m playing with.”
For Atkins, that shift in approach marks a full-circle moment in her trajectory as an artist. “My whole life, music was the only thing I ever really cared about,” she says. “When I was a kid I couldn’t get into sports, couldn’t get into school, but music was something I always wanted to know everything about. I never gave up on it, even when I felt like it was kind of failing me.” And in reflecting on the making of Italian Ice, Atkins returns to her eternal kinship with the Jersey Shore. “There’s this great quote about Asbury Park that I feel very connected to,” she says. “It’s something about how music was the thing that kept Asbury Park alive—even when the whole town was burned out and everyone moved away, music was the heartbeat that kept it going. I was thinking about that around the time I was making this record and I thought, ‘That’s just like my life.’”
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