A Conversation with The Nicks

The Nicks and friends – (left to right) Nick Steingart, Kalen Keir, Nick Hoover, and Matthew Burress – recently performed for a rowdy crowd at the Sister Bay Bowl on Fall Fest. Photo by Katie Sikora.

Last weekend, The Nicks (and friends) rocked the bowling alley at Sister Bay Bowl, luring the Fall Fest crowd on the dance floor with tunes like “Psycho Killer” and “Rock Me Mamma.” Oct. 19 at 7:30 pm, the duo – Nick Hoover and Nick Steingart – will play their eclectic blend of folk, rock, and blues at The Cookery Wine Bar, a much different venue, showcasing the wide range of their talents.

“It’s great to play when people are dancing and getting crazy, but it’s also great to play when people are sitting down,” says Nick Steingart. “That’s the great thing about The Nicks, when it’s just the two of us we can play slow, pretty songs. We’re not going to be playing those songs Fall Fest weekend at the bowling alley.”

For the past nine seasons, The Nicks have crisscrossed the Door Peninsula, playing such venues as Camp David, Nelsen’s Hall, Husby’s, The Bayside Tavern, and Fred & Fuzzy’s with a variety of musical guests including Kalen Keir, Rob Gay, Matthew Burress, and Jess Holland.

“We are The Nicks, literally and figuratively,” says Steingart.

“We are the static members,” adds Nick Hoover. “It’s fun.”

The two met and realized their mutual interest in music at Camp David in Fish Creek, which hosts a summer concert series.

“The music drew us there,” says Hoover. “I think I sing better with [Steingart] than anyone else I’ve come across. That’s why we started playing together, we were just driving in the car, singing along to some tune and then harmonizing with the song and with each other. It just sounded good and we were like, ‘Hmmm, let’s play some music together.’”

Nick Steingart holds a note while strumming away. Photo by Katie Sikora.

Since their first official (unpaid) gig playing a wedding at the Ephraim Town Hall – the two have seen each other through many life experiences and survived many musical mishaps.

“Nick and I have both almost had our front teeth knocked out by the microphone, multiple times,” says Steingart.

“Oh god,” chimes in Hoover, “people falling into the stage.”

“I believe the Rhythm Chicken fell into us and might have bent our bass knob, but we were never too sure about that,” smiles Steingart.

The duo have persevered and played on during these interruptions, and they see another successful season of playing music in Door County ahead.

“I think we’re really starting to figure out what kind of gigs we want to play,” said Hoover. “And it’s not even that we’re being selective about it. It’s just the right people are asking us.”

The Nicks asked the right person at the onset of their career for a gig that became a tradition for many Door County residents, seasonal workers, and tourists. “Fuzzy [of Fred and Fuzzy’s] came and saw us at Husby’s,” says Steingart. “We were dressed crazy – in ‘80s clothes or something – and he was like, ‘I don’t know if this is going to work.’” But it did. It has. The Nicks play every Tuesday (weather permitting) at the waterside restaurant during the summer season, a weekly event that has brought about some memorable nights.

“They’ve only asked us to turn it down a couple of time,” laughs Steingart. “There’s been great spontaneous dance, mud mosh pits.”

Nick Hoover holds the bass while checking out the crowd. Photo by Katie Sikora.

“The grass will not grow there anymore,” smiles Hoover.

“I feel very fortunate that people seem to really enjoy us and we enjoy them enjoying us,” says Steingart.

The show at The Cookery marks their last gig of the 2012 season. Steingart will return to Vail, Colorado, where he spends his winters as a ski instructor, playing regularly in the bluegrass/reggae band Skin the Rabbit. Hoover will stay in Sturgeon Bay and hopes to take on a few writing and recording projects.

“I’ll come back next summer,” says Steingart. “I have a Door County family up here.”

However long the two spend apart, there is something about their musical chemistry and ties to Door County that keep them making great music season after season.

Hoover reflects for a moment, “There was a time I went to New Mexico for a year and half, we kept in touch and when I moved back Nick was very adamant about getting together. And I let him be.”

“I love playing music,” says Steingart.

“I’m glad he did,” says Hoover.

Illustration by Nik Garvoille

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