Lucero frontman Ben Nichols seems destined to be a Rock & Roll lifer, a guy who revels in playing 200 shows a year for a relatively small but passionate fan base. The Memphis-bred band Nichols leads has dropped eight albums since forming in 1998, moving from Punk-inflected Roots rave-ups (think The Replacements playing Uncle Tupelo covers or vice versa) to a versatile mix of Soul, Country and straight-up Rock (think all of Steve Earle or Being There-era Wilco) with uncommon ease.
Lucero’s latest, Women & Work, is driven by the music Nichols heard as a kid growing up in rural Arkansas. (Curious side note: Nichols’ brother, Jeff, is the filmmaker behind Take Shelter and the just-released Mud, which features Lucero songs.)
“A lot of the songs do have an old Rock & Roll spirit — there’s Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly type stuff,” Nichols told Prefix in a 2012 interview.
“There’s a lot of Boogie-Woogie piano and elements of more fun Rock & Roll. I just wanted to kind of lean that direction this time out.”
And lean it does. The title track is a rollicking, piano- and horn-driven ditty about the two most vital things in any good Southerner’s life: women and work.Nichols has a pointed message, via Prefix, for those who might not like Lucero’s more traditional direction of late: “One of the reasons we started Lucero was to not have rules. When we added the horns, people were like, ‘You can’t add horns — it’s Lucero.’ And I’m like, ‘Fuck you, we’re adding horns.’ ”
LUCERO performs Thursday, May 2 at Southgate House Revival in Newport with Langhorne Slim and The Law. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.