News, Press - posted on March 20, 2015 by

Arbus Feature

JacksonVegas: Jacksonville’s Dilatory Troubadour

Featured in the March/April issue of Arbus Magazine, written by Mike Bernos

Even a chameleon must return to its natural color. So it is with multi-genre artist and JacksonVegas front man Grant Nielsen, who has returned to his folk roots with the release of his six-song EP, Someday is as Good as Any Day.
For Nielsen, who can wear the crown as Jacksonville’s troubadour son as justifiably as anyone, the EP is a return to his metaphorical musical home, paying homage to artists he grew up with and influenced him the most: James Taylor, Simon and Garfunkel and Joni Mitchell.

Nielsen first embarked on his musical odyssey by studying jazz at UNF on scholarship. He then followed the R&B/Rap/Funk siren in 2001 as one of the original members of the popular and enduring Fusebox Funk, a group that has mined that genre mix successfully.

“I spent my younger years doing everything but folk,” says Nielsen. “I wanted to experiment.”

In 2010, following the urging of friends and family, Nielsen returned to his folk beginnings and started JacksonVegas, with whom he sings and plays guitar.

“I wanted to come back to my roots and get serious about singing and songwriting,” he explains.
The songs are a partial compilation of his work during that time. Nielsen says that the EP is best described as Americana as it’s a blend of pop, country, blues, and rock. adding, “Because I’ve played so many different kinds of music I have a hard time staying focused on one style.”
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Nielsen’s description of his music belies its complexity. He creates haunting hooks that rarely resolve in an expected form, while varying melodic themes. “Within Your Skin” displays his smooth tenor working seamlessly in and around the interplay of his guitar and strings. “Only Your Soul” is an indie anthem that can stand up to anything of Mumford & Sons or Phillip Phillips (a very underrated songwriter) in its élan and cathartic stadium chorus. And on “Some Kind of Stranger,” Nielsen shows he can put an edge on his vocals to reflect the song’s soul-searching message.

Like his musical icons, Nielsen’s songs can be provocative, political, and pensive, questioning vanity (“Within Your Skin”) and exploring the unquestioned allegiance to one’s call to duty (“Only Your Soul”). He also expresses his love and allegiance to his hometown, particularly its downtown, in the workmanlike song, “Chip Away.”

“I believe this is the last opportunity for a renaissance for Jacksonville in my lifetime,” says Nielsen, who served as marketing director for Downtown’s entertainment district, The Elbow. “If it wants to climb out of its hole, now is the time. We can’t let this opportunity pass us by.”

Just as the melody structures of his songs rarely repeat identically, neither do JacksonVegas concerts. Nielsen often has a family of notable Jacksonville musicians, including John Parkerurban, Cyrus Quaranta, Phillip Pan, Brett Bass, Bea Gayle and Frank Balsamo, who appear  with him live, making, as he says, “no two concerts the same.”

Someday is as Good as Any Day can be found at

Article written by Mike Bernos
Original article can be read here

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News - posted on January 29, 2015 by

Someday Is As Good As Any Day – Now Available

Someday_CoverAfter a long wait, we have finally released our EP. “Someday Is As Good As Any Day”, as the title might suggest, has been a long time in the making; but we’re really thrilled to be able to share it with everyone.

You can now purchase multiple formats of the disc, including physical, WAV, FLAC, and MP3 here. The EP is also available at itunes, amazon, and nearly every other digital retailer.

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News, Press - posted on January 28, 2015 by

Folio Feature


He’s just that kind of guy. Which makes it hard to remain objective when writing a review. His last words before I sat down to bang this thing out, sent to me via Facebook and in reference to his new release: “Hope you don’t hate it.”My response: “I will. Don’t worry .”

Good news is, I don’t hate it. Nielsen, under the name JacksonVegas, officially releases Someday Is as Good as Any Day at a show on Saturday, Jan. 31 at Underbelly. Here’s 
my take on it, with the songs reviewed in order of appearance.

“Chip Away” is a breezy album-opener, underpinned by well-orchestrated acoustic-and-keyboard arrangement. It’s a strong piece, melodic as hell, if a bit Dixie Chicks in tone. (OK, let me explain. With Nielsen’s voice, one might not initially think Dixie Chicks. Remove his vocals, however, and superimpose the female trio, and the song could easily fit on a Dixie Chicks album. For clarification, I love the 
Dixie Chicks, especially the work they did with Rick Rubin.)

Nielsen is a fantastic singer, when he avoids slipping into the Chad Kroeger zone. Yes, the loser frontman for Nickelback. It only happens once or twice on Someday, but most noticeably in “Chip Away” during the chorus. Otherwise, this contends for the best song on the record, moving from a mellow intro into a soaring mid-section. In fact, other than the whole Kroeger thing, this song may be nearly flawless. Especially the arrangement. The band, whose members varied throughout the years-long recording process, strikes a perfect balance of power and grace. And the background vocals are just beautiful.

Track 2, “By My Side,” opens like The Cars’ “My Best Friend’s Girlfriend,” but we get past that quickly enough. Big, fat distorted guitars and a distant Rhodes fill the space while Nielsen sings about his girl. Nielsen seems to write somewhere in between hard country and harder Americana. It is, for the most part, a great combination. Though “By My Side” isn’t my favorite track on the record, it certainly holds up until the last verse, when the straight four-rock feel morphs into a bouncy shuffle. That only lasts for a moment, but it took me out of the song. A minor quibble, but one I couldn’t deny. Again, the background vocals are wonderful.

This is where I will break from popular opinion, but the third entry, “Only Your Soul,” is too formulaic to be liked. It’s got that intolerable indie-band tom-tom groove paired with that unison-vocal-paired-with-the-piano-line thing that’s so damn popular right now. I get it. Gotta stay relevant in the market, and it’s a guaranteed heartstring-puller. But this stuff has never appealed to me. (Yes, Grant, I hated this one.)

“Some Kind of Stranger” comes back with deep groove, thick guitars and Nielsen singing the way he does best — naturally and without affectation. It’s a simple, to-the-point mid-tempo rocker backed by spare synth line, you know, to keep it modern. Good stuff.

“Within Your Skin,” which Nielsen says will soon be made into a flip-book-style animated music video, borders on that indie band contrivance I mentioned earlier, but it’s too fetching to be hated. Blatantly McCartneyesque, this song is nearly a masterwork of pop balladry. Melodic and smooth, lyrically strong, this is the kind of piece songwriters strive to write and so often fall short. I can’t write enough good things about this song without sounding mushy, so let’s just say it’s a must-listen — and the other contender for best song on the record.

“Now That’s My Home” winds things up with a rednecky blues, supported by a slinky slide guitar and some nasty tremolo guitars. Swampy and groovy, the tune is again enhanced by its background vocals. About halfway through, we are treated to a double-time hoedown, so you could even mosh to it, if the mood strikes.

If you pick up the album, be sure to dig into the liner notes. The list of players and production team reads like a roster of Jacksonville’s MVPs. Too many, again, to list here, but worthy of praise in their own right. Nielsen has made many friends on the local scene, and rightly so. He’s a hard worker and a genuine character.

And, to be clear, he sounds like Chad Kroeger for a total of only about 30 cumulative seconds on this record.

Don’t hold that against him.

JacksonVegas holds a release party for Someday Is as Good as Any Day with Master Radical and Pilotwave at 10 p.m. Jan. 31 at Underbelly, 
113 E. Bay St., Downtown, $10.

Article written by John E. Citrone
Original article can be read here

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