Johnny Nicol returns to Merimbula for Down South Jazz Club

The legendary jazz singer and guitarist Johnny Nicol is returning for the Down South Jazz Club this month.
The legendary jazz singer and guitarist Johnny Nicol is returning for the Down South Jazz Club this month.

On March 18, the Down South Jazz Club is delighted to bring to the Club Sapphire stage once again the very popular and internationally-acclaimed guitarist and vocalist Johnny Nicol.

Johnny Nicol and The Peter Locke Trio features Nicol on guitar and vocals, Locke on piano, Craig Scott on bass and Ron Lemke on drums. The Club last had the pleasure of hearing Johnny on two occasions in 2012 at the Lakeview Hotel with the Laurie Bennett Trio, firstly in January, and in September that same year Laurie's pianist was Peter Locke.

The legendary Nicol is a jazz singer and guitarist born in Ayr, Queensland. He delights everyone with his stellar vocals and jazz guitar with an unmistakable style.

His introduction to music was at family gatherings around an upright piano. He began his career in Sydney in 1958 as a member of the Maori Troubadours. He went on to perform on the Gold Coast, then Italy, Las Vegas, throughout England and also on a cruise ship between New York and the Bahamas.

He returned to Australia in 1969 and in 1972 hosted an ABC Radio music show. Critics acclaimed him the "finest jazz guitar stylist in Australia" and "our own George Benson in both vocal style and jazz guitar technique". His following grew with exposure as a regular guest artist on television's national Midday Show.

During 1989 considerable recognition came Johnny's way with his nomination for three major music awards. In 1990 the luxury Radisson Plaza Hotel, newest of the Cairns tourist resorts, brought Johnny back to far north of Queensland to open and star in the hotel's showroom - the Johnny Nicol Supper Club. Both Don Burrows and Bob Barnard have described Johnny Nicol as their favourite Australian jazz singer.

Locke is a highly respected professional performer with many years of experience having played with the Daly Wilson Big Band, Brad Charles Big Band and John Morrison's Swing City among others. He was also resident jazz pianist at City Tattersall's Club, Sydney for around seven years and has backed many of Australia's top jazz vocalists.

He has played for the Down South Jazz Club many times in the past with the likes of Marie Wilson, Di Bird, Johnny Nicol, Bob Barnard, Benny's Boys. In 2013 he backed Tricia Evy and Dan Barnett, backing Dan again in 2018, and in 2016 and 2018 he formed a quartet to back Gregg Arthur. His last performance for the jazz club was in 2019 with The Swingin' Songstress Helen Fenton

Scott has been one of Australia's leading bassists for over 30 years. He began his career in jazz in 1979 with the Keith Stirling Quartet. Since that time he has been a member of many other jazz groups led by such well-known jazz identities as Don Burrows, James Morrison, and many others.

He is deeply involved in jazz education and frequently gives master classes at tertiary institutions around Australia and New Zealand. He has also taught for the Jazz Action Society jazz workshop program and for Jazzworx clinics in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Townsville.

In July 2002 he was invited to be a guest lecturer at Berklee Music School in Boston, USA, for the International Association of Schools of Jazz. He has also accompanied a large number of visiting international jazz artists.

The Club looks forward to hearing the swinging drums of Lemke in what will be his first appearance for the Down South Jazz Club.

This excellent night of jazz will cost $15 for jazz club members and $25 for visitors. Bookings can be made by sending an email to or using the form on the WhatsOn page on the club's website. You can also call Aileen or Kevin Walsh on (02) 6495 9853, or just turn up on the night and pay at the door.

Doors open at 7pm and music starts at 7.30pm. The Club Sapphire bistro opens at 5.30pm for those who wish to have a meal first.