Nilsen hits 20 album milestone
"Foreign Films" makes album number 20 for West Linn musician John Nilsen.
The milestone album was released in August, and is already being hailed as an instant classic. To celebrate Nilsen will present CD Release Music Sunday and Monday concerts Oct. 27 and 28 at Lake Theater and CafÉ, starting at 7 p.m.
A pianist, guitarist, vocalist and songwriter, Nilsen is considered one of the Pacific Northwest's most successful performance and recording artists. He started his prolific career some 35 years ago, first signing with Eagle Records in Los Angeles.
"I produced three records with them, but recognized I could it myself," he said. "That was the smartest business move I ever made." Under his label Magic Wing, Nilsen has produced 17 albums.
"I have always made sure to be myself and do what I wanted to do without regard for what others wanted," he said. "Perhaps that sounds shallow or narrow-minded but you have to follow your muse and keep forging new ground to move forward artistically."
Nilsen graduated from Sunset High School then graduated from Southern Oregon University in Ashland. He loved Ashland's small town feel and the well-balanced life it offered, and could travel anywhere from there to work on musical projects. He met the woman whom he would marry in a local grocery store; she was offered a job in the Portland metro area and he followed about a year and a half later. The couple settled in West Linn, enjoying its proximity to I-5 for jaunts to southern Oregon. And he kept writing and recording music, often in his home studio.
Nilsen passed the 1 million sales mark three or four years ago, a rare accomplishment in the music industry. He credits his success with being "aggressive, consistent and strong."
"I work really hard and am dedicated to my craft," he said. Magic Wing has a catalogue of 20 titles, all distributed internationally with many being licensed outside the United States, including Germany, Great Britain, The Philippines, Canada, Taiwan and Singapore.
Nilsen averages about 225 shows a year, performing as a solo pianist, solo guitarist and as a member of his two bands. The John Nilsen Trio, which performs a mix of folk, classical, jazz and rock, features Nilsen on piano, Jeff Leonard on bass and Jason Moore on percussion. John Nilsen and SWIMFISH, a folk-rock band, features Nilsen on guitar, piano, vocals; Dave Captein on bass; Mike Snyder on drums; Bob Logue on guitar and vocals and Don Woodward on guitar, harmonica, mandolin and vocals. Nilsen has performed in every state in the U.S., as well as logged numerous tours in Europe and Asia.
Throughout his career Nilsen says he has surrounded himself with the "best talent in the industry."
Though not created with any specific film in mind, Nilsen intends "Foreign Films" to be a soundtrack.
"A soundtrack is sonically always changing," he said. "Always getting interesting or evolving." The album is made up of 18 original songs written for piano with orchestral backing.
At the CD release concerts Oct. 27 and 28, Nilsen will be joined by longtime collaborators Jeff Leonard on bass and Jason Moore on percussion. Nilsen hints that audiences can expect a few other friends to make guest appearances to make the performances every more unique.
The concerts are expected to sell out and those wishing to attend should secure tickets now online at laketheater-com.seatengine. Tickets are $20 each general admission or $100 for VIP seating for four closest to the stage.
Lake Theater is located at 106 N. State St. in downtown Lake Oswego.
To learn more about Nilsen visit magicwing.com.
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