For Nick Schnebelen, blues music is a family matter

Tahoe Onstage

Nick Schnebelen rocks Squaw Valley with one of his several guitars he brought onstage.
Tahoe Onstage photos by Tim Parsons

For the Schnebelens, music is more than a family tradition.

“Just like birds fly, we play music — it’s just something we do,” said Nick Schnebelen, whose band which played for the first time June 19, at Bluesdays, which is its 10th summer as a Tuesday tradition in The Village at Squaw Valley.

Schnebelen, whose musical family tree stretches more than a century back to Eastern Europe, branched out on his own three years ago, ending the longtime run of Trampled Under Foot, which included his sister, Danielle Nicole, and brother, Kris.

Trampled Under Foot went out on top, winning Blues Music Awards in 2014 for Best Band, Best Album, and Best Bass Player. It won the 2008 International Blues Challenge, in which Nick Schnebelen also earned the Albert King award for the IBC’s best guitarist.

“We played together for so long, we were ready to start working on our own and spread our wings as solo artists,” said Schnebelen, who released a live album and has completed a studio album.Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

“I just love I love blues and I love blues-rooted music and different styles within the blues and the roots world,” he told Tahoe Onstage. “One of my main styles is an amalgamation of a lot of different decades. I like to represent a little bit of all of them. The old school, new school, even Delta. I bring a lot of different styles together.”

The unreleased studio album, “Crazy All By Myself,” is being shopped around to record labels. Tony Braunagel, who produced the last two Trampled Under Foot records, worked with Schnebelen on his solo studio debut. Guest artists include harmonica stars Dustin Arbuckle and Jason Ricci, and Isle of Man guitarist Davy Knowles.

“I’ve worked with Tony so much, we really write well together,” Schnebelen said. “He takes the time to make sure that all the songs are popping and really solid before we record them. He has great command and a sense of blues.”

As a solo artist, Nick Schnebelen does the singing. He split vocals with sister Danielle when they were with Trampled Under Foot.

Using the name Danielle Nicole, she released her debut album in 2015, and then she went on tour as the bassist for the North Mississippi Allstars. She reunited with Braunagel to make her second album, “Cry No More,” which reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Blues chart. Her older brother Kris, a drummer, is now playing in the Danielle Nicole Band.

The Schnebelens are generations’ long staples of the Kansas City music scene.

Nick’s father, Bob, had a blues band, Little Eva, that the young siblings would join during rehearsal jams.

“My mom’s mother was a jazz singer in Kansas City with a swing band and she got to sing with Count Basie,” Schnebelen said. “My great-grandfather had a string band in the 1920s called the Silver String Sextet. We’ve had string players in our family for generations going back to violin players in Eastern Europe.”

Schnebelen has two young daughters, who, quite naturally, play piano and violin.

“It feels like to me music is just kind of moving through this bloodline,” Schnebelen said.

– Tim Parsons

Tahoe Onstage

Schnebelen and drummer Adam Hagerman point to bassist Cliff Moore after a solo.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

Tahoe Onstage

Schnebelen plays air drums as Adam Hagerman does the real deal.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

  • Bluesdays
    The Village at Squaw Valley
    6 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays
    June 12: The Blues Monsters
    June 19: Nick Schnebelen Band
    June 26: Mark Hummel’s Golden State / Lone Star Revue
    July 3: Curtis Salgado
    July 10: Debbie Davies
    July 17: Ron Artis II & The Truth
    July 24: Albert Castiglia
    July 31: Joe Louis Walker
    Aug. 7: Kenny Neal
    Aug. 14: Chris Cain
    Aug. 21: Terry Hanck
    Aug. 28: Coco Montoya
    Sept. 4: Cedric Burnside Project

About Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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