Can’t find anything to Dislike

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Nick Brownell was born in Kansas but raised in Sandusky, Ohio. He always loved to sing and had teachers that encouraged him. He has five brothers. When Nick was sixteen, a younger brother got a guitar. They learned to play together. Barry Ross, who was a little older, took Nick to house parties, and they got their first gig together. After graduating from Perkins High School in 2003, they both moved to Columbus, Ohio to pursue musical success.

While in Columbus, Brownell auditioned and was selected for a reality TV show called “The One”, which was a music competition reality show. It was a full ABC Network production but the show was cancelled after two weeks for low ratings. The prize money was split among the contestants which resulted in a significant pay check for the 18-year-old musician.

He heard about another TV production, located in Nashville, which was sponsored by Country Music Television (CMT) Network, and auditioned together with Jeremiah Richie, another contestant from “The One”.  They were accepted for the show, “Can You Duet”, and took second place in 2006. They were promised a deal with a label that never materialized. However, Brownell gained a foothold in the Nashville scene and worked there for a number of years. He soon started a two-piece rock band and began touring the country.

Shortly after the cancellation of The One reality music competition, Ron Gregorcic from Cleveland, contacted Brownell. They had played on the same bill together at different venues. He was with a group that was booked at Sloppy Joe’s for two weeks and needed a guitarist and a drummer. In 2006, Brownell played his first gig in Key West at Sloppy Joe’s with a group called The Hangovers. They played together seasonally and were booked four times a year at Sloppy Joe’s for the next two years.

Another Ohio friend, Courtney Wilson was living in Key West and had evacuated due to Hurricane Irma (2017). She and Brownell were performing at the same venue in Put-In-Bay, Ohio. Brownell had enjoyed his gigs in Key West at Sloppy Joe’s and told Courtney he wanted to return. She had quite a few Key West connections and offered to help. Nick started getting a few gigs in Key West.

Turner harrison and Nick Brownell duet at the Music In the Meadows House party at Jerrod Isaman’s.

Brownell was performing at the Green Room on Duval Street and was offered the music director position, and this was enough to get Nick and his wife to move from Nashville to Key West in 2019. It didn’t take long for Nick to dovetail into the Key West music scene.

Billie Kate loves to listen to her dad’s music

He and his wife, Kara, had been together for a long time and married for two years before arriving in Key West. They had been trying to have a child, with no success. After moving to Key West, Kara almost immediately got pregnant and had a beautiful baby girl. It quickly happened again, and today, they have two gorgeously cute daughters, Billie Kate and Kelly. The Key West music scene affects everyone differently.

Brownell has made a living playing music since high school. He learns music easily but never learned to read music. It was difficult making a living playing music while in Nashville – he had to tour to make ends meet. He has found Key West is much different. He feels with the one million tourists that arrive annually, he is “on tour” every day and makes a good living for himself and family.

While in Nashville in 2011, he published a live recording album with a band called Heavy Sole that was heavily influenced (pun intended) by a popular song, “Heavy Soul”, by The Black Keys. He enjoys all types of music and has been covering other musicians’ music since forever. His original songs are all different and wouldn’t fit together on a single album. He feels he’s been interpreting others music for a long time and hasn’t really found his own voice yet.

Nick enjoys playing on stage at the Key West Theater but he also enjoys smaller venues where he can really connect with an audience. His audience knows when he’s not having a good day. Likewise, Nick feels he can feed off the positive energy from his audience. The competition in the Key West music scene is serious but the camaraderie among the musicians is the best part of working here. If fact, Nick says he “can’t find anything to dislike.”

Kara, Billie Kate, and Nick together in music.


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