Your Momma is gonna want one....you know she is...!! I sincerely thank you for your interest, I hope you like the music, Momma always did.
Curtis was born on June 16th, 1951 in Cadet, Mo., the 8th of 10 children of Carl and Virgie Nickelson, out in the middle of nowhere, born in Momma's bedroom, never being in a hospital except for visitation. The joke is often heard, "the 60's didn't get there till 1973, it was so far back in the woods!" From that bucolic setting, Curtis knew he had to see a little more of this world.
At some prepubescent age, Curtis would run across the room every time JoAnn Castle would play on the Lawrence Welk show. He would watch her fingers then emulate the technique on the old piano in the living room. He played at the Cadet Baptist Chapel where his mom was the "piano lady" for the tiny congregation. There he learned many of life's lessons, forgot some, kept most and has been playing piano ever since.
Upon graduation from Potosi High School at age 16, he attended Southeast Missouri State College, majoring in Spanish. At the time, the goal was to teach Spanish in High School. Of course, that never happened. Two weeks after he started college, he took a part-time job at Shakey's Pizza Parlor, playing piano for $3 an hour. That isn't a lot, but considering the minimum wage was $1.10 at that time, for a college student, it was a fairly good job. That gig lasted 2 ½ years. Once there, he managed to bend most of the rules that he learned in Sunday School, probably even breaking a few.
Being a full time student and playing piano 5 nights a week didn't leave a lot of time for much else, but he managed to get married and have his first child, Andrea in 1971. Four months later, she contracted spinal meningitis and Curtis had to drop out as a second semester senior to make some money to ransom his daughter from the hospital bills.
After several odd jobs, he enlisted in the US Air Force as an Airborne Navigation Equipment Specialist and went to technical school at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Ms. The night of graduation from Technical Instructor's Course, he partied with his classmates and found King William's Cellar in Ocean Springs, Ms. They had a 100 yr. old Steinway grand piano in the dining room and Curtis sat down and played a little, was offered a part time job, and started playing 6 nights a week. That gig lasted 2 ½ years. After teaching electronics for 3 years there, his Spanish in college kicked in and Curtis spent 5 great years teaching electronics in Spanish to Central and South American Air Force students at the Inter-American Air Forces Academy in the Panama Canal Zone.
While there, he played in a couple of bands then started his own, the band called "Truckstop". It was the longest running C-W band in the Canal Zone. "Truckstop" lived 4 years and was a little 4-5 piece CW band that had a total of 14 members over the last 4 years in Panama. One of the drummers, Darrell Jones, left and went to San Antonio, TX. The plan was to back up a songstress named Sylvia. Of course, that never happened either. A myriad of bands and part-time jobs landed Curtis back in the classroom teaching electronics at NEC and later Hallmark Institute of Technology, all the while still playing part-time at various clubs and venues around San Antonio. During those years, he played once with Jerry Jeff Walker, once with Joe Stampley and once with Johnny Bush, and they won't remember any of them. He jammed with all of the "Texas Tornadoes", and even used Freddy Fender's microphone in his brief brushes with greatness. But, San Antonio brought his first gig at a retirement center and a glimpse of what would become his life's work and ministry.
Also while in San Antonio, Curtis finished his degree at Southwest Texas State in San Marcos, TX., with a BSOE in Occupational Education in December, 1984.
While living in Austin, Curtis was Director of Education and Placement Director for Southwest School of Electronics and played several retirement facilities around the area. Also at that time, he played in a CW band almost every weekend for a 3 year period.
Finally, Curtis moved to Houston in December of 2000 and was married to Cheryl on June 16th, 2001. It was with Cheryl's help and understanding that Curtis was able to just play music for a living. Along with Cheryl came her son, Kevin. Kevin has always been Curtis' son, never a step-son. It was a great package deal.!!!
He embarked on a full time musical career and a full time ministry at the same time. Doing all his own bookings, Curtis fills his months with as many performances as logistically possible. After playing in 26 states, 3 foreign countries, a couple of cruise ships and two islands, a 37 year musical career is now busier than ever. Last year, 2004, Curtis performed 356 times. In 2005, he played 399 performances for the year. In 2006, he has 429 booked so far, that will probably increase.
In 2005, he released his first CD, "Old Days/New Ways" that you see here. The Lord has blessed us mightily. We owe to Him all the glory.
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