The Beloved Nick Wilkinson!

Almost everyone involved in the music scene in Akron, Ohio knows and adores Nick Wilkinson. He’s sweet, he’s funny and his voice is damn near angelic. His story is definitely one of the most surprising stories I’ve ever recorded.

Nick grew up in Marion, Ohio, a place most famous for its State Penitentiary. Sounds delightfully sunny. His first introduction to music began at a very young age singing songs with his Irish grandparents. In high school, he took an elective called Instrumental Music. It was his first real experience with music, and he was the only one in the class with no musical background. That convinced his parents he was taking it more seriously, so when he was sixteen his dad bought him a cheap bass guitar, and at seventeen he got an acoustic. The rest, as they say, is history.

His first band was a high school punk band called Short Notice, but like most high school bands, feelings got hurt and they broke up. That deterred him away from playing out for quite some time and he just started playing by himself. A friend of his in college basically taught him how to play in his dorm every night, but Nick says his biggest musical influence was…drumroll please…Rock Band. Maybe not as much for guitar, but Rock Band helps control vocal range quite a bit he says.

Eventually, a friend convinced him to play the open mic at Musica, where he met tons of people, including Jeff Klemm, that would go on to become very good friends. He would play there every couple of weeks and occasionally play at Northside for their open mic as well. He played a few acoustic sets at the Nervous dog, but nothing major.

A friend of his in Columbus adored his style so much, he gave Nick a start up donation to print CD’s….but apparently, he performed terribly for them. Nick says no one will ever get to listen to them, which is a bummer, and slightly unbelievable. He landed a few gigs with the Ohio Poetry Association and decided he would try to open for a show at Musica. They made him an opener to an already sold-out rock show, and Nick said he had a god damned blast.

However fun that show must have been, his whole family saw Nick walk up there with a guitar that was taped together with duck tape. It looked pretty rough, apparently. So rough, in fact, that his uncle convinced him he had a newly found passion for guitars, had Nick pick out a good one, and promptly bought it and handed it over. Talk about lucky!

Eventually, Nick and some friends decided to play some tunes together. Nick wanted to maintain the project as a solo project, but he wanted to be able to have musicians flow in and out of the band structure. So, sitting at Lockview one night, Devin “Thunder” Simmons had the idea to take after Saturday Night Live and call the collaboration Nick Wilkinson and the Featured Players.

So, Nick Wilkinson and the Featured Players started playing shows all the time and eventually blossomed into the Highland Square household name they are today. They mainly focused on playing shows and having fun, but Nick has recently shifted his focus onto planning for an album release. It’s something he was never really concerned with until one day one of his fans actually got angry at him and accused him of being a dick tease. Glamorous. However, Nick has decided to, and I quote, ‘shit or get off the pot’.

Nick wants to maintain his ensemble as Nick Wilkinson and the Featured Players so he can hold onto the creative freedom he loves so much and to keep a steady flow of musicians in his project. The goal at the moment is to begin the recording process and get an album out sooner rather than later.

My immediate goals for the future; I really don’t have any immediate goals for the week let alone the future. Ha, I wish I was kidding. Weirdly enough I have to answer the same question at work this week. Immediate goals…I’m getting back to my idea of starting a Youtube channel for entertainment news, interviews with artists, and live performances. That’s something that I hope to have started by September, or launched, or whatever you call it. I guess I’m still playing music…I don’t know. I’ve been battling depression for the last few years and I’ve been working to get back to finding the joy in things. Sitting at home and getting mad at the world via the Internet hasn’t been helping. I’ve got a pretty killer comic book collection now though. I want to record with the band.

The last question I ask in an interview and my favorite question is: what would your advice be to any kids that are trying to get involved in the music scene?

Don’t think of it as the music business…well that’s not true…get paid. People always told me ‘the money will happen’…it doesn’t. The money doesn’t just happen, and unfortunately, you need it to get to the next town, you need it to buy strings, and picks, and guitars, and beer, and cigarettes. Have a plan, have fun, be cool, your band rocks but you’re not infallible.
Feed the beast with good food. Read books, lots of them. Listen to music you don’t like. Meet a stranger, argue with them about why big dogs are better than big cats. Stay engaged. Be proud but not cocky. And tell someone you love them everyday.

Nick Wilkinson is a singer/songwriter based out of Akron, Ohio. To find out more information on upcoming events and news, click here.

Annie Benson is a writer for Vulcanized, a music lover and activist based out of Akron, Ohio. If you liked this article, click the ♡.