Ask JT Nero, and he’ll claim that he learned doo wop songs and spirituals from Meadowlark Lemon and Curly Neal on the back of the Harlem Globetrotter bus in the late ‘70s.
His father played for the Washington Generals, who traveled with the Globetrotters, losing nightly, while serving as comic punching bags.
Nero will also tell you that his beliefs about the absurdity of life and the inevitability of loss were formed in these years.
Ask others, and they will describe – however it came to be – the sense of loss, absurdity and beauty in Nero’s music.
Critics describe it as “slinky, vulnerable and reverent of the Memphis soul of yore,” and Nero himself as “on the verge of breaking big-time,” (Chicago Tribune).
As a singer, he’s “a superb crooner and an equally powerful soul singer, able to belt out a lyric or etch it with the delicacy of Venetian glass, whilst evoking Curtis Mayfield one moment and Sly Stone the next,” (All Music Guide).
Nero delivers “Greenwich Village-style busker soul, caught between two generations of tragic Buckleys,” (Chicago Reader) and, put another way, “soul-music injected variations on the pop-folk, singer-songwriter theme,” (Santa Barbara News-Press).
Nero has spent much of the last year touring solo and collaborating with Canadian roots champs, Po’ Girl.
He also fronts the Chicago-based rock n’ soul collective, JT and The Clouds, of late, described as “near flawless and certainly not short on soul,” (Austin Music Magazine), a “9 out of 10” (Americana UK) and possessors of “a rare vision” (the Onion-AV Club).
“Mountains/forests” is Nero’s second solo CD, and was recorded with members of Po’ Girl and The Clouds, in a cabin in northernmost Wisconsin. On tour, Nero will be joined by Po’ Girl’s Allison Russell and percussionist Mikey “Lightning” August.
Lindsay, aka, Nero is also known as a songwriter’s writer, having composed Scattered Leaves, covered by The Be Good Tanyas, and of Til It’s Gone, covered by Po’Girl. In the words of Nero, the band is poised to “absolutely explode your mind and spirit, then rebuild them with love and gentle care.”
JT Nero will be appearing at Grand Forks Art Gallery on Thursday, April 28 at 7:30 p.m. with special guest Allison Russell of Po’ Girl fame.