A STAR HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETE sidelined by a serious kidney ailment, Nick Moss picked up the electric bass at the urging of his brother Joe, a budding blues guitarist, simply to pass the time. When he rose from his sickbed to sneak out and hear Little Charlie and the Nightcats, his course was set: The allure of performing was irresistible, and Nick resolved that night to become a musician. Although Moss tells it matter-of-factly, a deep appreciation notwithstanding, it is difficult not to read mythical, even mystical overtones into his story, particularly if you are among those who love music and understand its power to elevate, transform, and even save lives.
Moss is one of us, and he has repaid the debt many times over. Fresh out of school, he learned to love the gritty Chicago blues of the 1970s while playing with real deal bluesmen, first as one of Buddy Scott’s Rib Tips, then with Jimmy “Fast Fingers” Dawkins. He mastered the subtleties of golden-age postwar electric blues with the Legendary Blues Band of Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, where he exchanged his bass for the guitar, and later spent three years as guitarist with the great Jimmy Rogers. These apprenticeships served him well when he started his own band, Nick Moss and the Flip Tops, and began writing and recording an acclaimed series of hard-hitting albums for his own Blue Bella label, beginning with 1999’s First Offense and 2001’s Blues Music Award-nominated Got A New Plan.
By the time of 2003’s Count Your Blessings, Moss’s work was attracting the attention in a big way. That recording featured not only the talents of such Chicago-based artists as Willie Smith, Barrelhouse Chuck, and Bob Stroger, but the contributions of national figures like Anson Funderburgh and Sam Myers, Lynwood Slim, and Curtis Salgado. Both Blessings and its successor, Sadie Mae (2005), received BMA consideration and strong reviews. Two exciting live albums (Live at Chan’s and Live at Chan’s: Combo Platter No. 2, the latter featu