We had the good fortune of connecting with Nick Gaitan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nick, have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
I always keep going, even if the direction or focus changes. This of course is unique to the situation and/or context, but I can’t say that I have ever just stopped doing anything that I am passionate about regardless of how bad it beat me up.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My work in music ranges from performing on stage, touring internationally, recording studio session work, composing music, writing lyrics, documenting local music history and producing events. I have played with some great artists over the years including Nikki Hill, Billy Joe Shaver, Los Skarnales, and have shared the stage with many others on this journey. My writing and my songs are often heavily influenced by my own life and experiences in Houston and the Gulf Coast region. My background (Chicano/Mexican-American/Latino) also are part of the whole picture. I also find that the regional music that I play has been in my heart throughout my life mixed with those experience. What sets me apart from others are those very things that are uniquely mine, the things that end up in my story, in my songs that is. My work reflects my life, the moments I’ve lived to sing about, the things that make my mind go. I am very proud of the work I have created and produced to get my career in music started. It’s been around 22 years now since I first jumped into music leading my path to be a professional performer. I got here because of a passion for music, the vehicle was a tololoche, the string bass. This instrument put me in line with the music of my roots and so many other genres that have led me here. It was not easy, there was nothing but hard work and a fiery passion that led me to different opportunities that I chose to take along the way. We take lots of chances and somethings work out while others do not. It’s not what I would consider a conventional life or type of work, but just as fast as I say that, I would also ponder just what conventional is. There have been many lessons along the way just depending on the situation or the context. Some lessons from basic fairness, how people treat, regard, and respect artists, to lessons in intellectual property. We never stop learning unless we choose to. I want the world to know that my brand of Tejas Roots Music is genuinely me! The soundscapes of the culture in my region are present in my original work. It is all fueled by what’s inside my heart.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I have friends that pass through Houston a bit. When they do, there are always options, and good ones! Like my friend Craig Kinsey says in his song “Montrose Blvd. Blues,” If you know the right guy, there’s always something to do.” This is true, but when you are running around with me it’s a lot of East End and Southeast for me. I like to take my friends to The D&W Lounge at 911 Milby for a good hang on any day of the week, to see a band on the weekend, or just day drinking session, I like to show my people around at the parks I enjoy walking at that are off our beautiful bayous like Mason or Glenbrook, to name a couple. If I find that there is a show at joints like The Continental Club, or Shady Arces, we hit these places up, or if there is something happening at HMFA or CAM, then it’s on!! Other spots are cool landmarks, different cemeteries like Forest Park, Evergreen, Harrisburg-Jackson, at the edge of Pecan Park, my old hood. I love my city and enjoy sharing it with my friends. Sometimes you gotta get down to Pasadena and hit up a joint where they still blast and dance Tejano music just like when it was on the FM radio. Then there’s places to eat, because that’s what we do. I like to take friends to Spankys on Telephone Rd., or other Southeast classic like Tel-Wink, definitely showing my next visitors The Harris County General Store Barbecue Co. that is on Lawndale. I’d probably visit any or all of these if I had a week to show a friend around. I am sure there would be other stops along the way, but these come to mind like tacks on the map.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to shout out to Marissa Saenz. She is one of the most intelligent, driven, and kind people I know in this world. Her ideas and visions are never just ordinary and she has more than what it takes to skillfully produce her visions into reality and we all know how much fire and courage that takes. If you don’t know, you just have to see her work. She is a great leader and always keeps her cool in the most dynamic of situations to say the least. Her mind is amazing and if you know her, you already know her heart is just as great. I could go on and on, but I want to say she is one of a kind and I have have an endless admiration for her and her work ethic.
All images by Violeta Alvarez Photography