Nick Colionne may be as well-known for his fine fretwork on guitar as he is for that dapper appearance.
After picking up the instrument at age 9, it wasn’t long before the guitarist created a personal style, complete with mascara.
“I always played with guys who were a lot older when I was a teenager. They would help me to look older, so we’d put the mascara moustache on,” Colionne recalled. “We were doing a performance and my grandmother was there. I came out the back and she saw it. She was like, ‘What is that all over your face?’ Then she took a handkerchief and wiped it off.”
After he stopped laughing, the jazzman added, “It’s a real moustache now. I just take the razor and keep it shaped.”
These days, Colionne also sports chic suits courtesy of his clothing endorsement from Stacy Adams.
“My mother would always say 85 percent of it is visual; people are going to see you way before they hear you,” he said. “I tried to build myself as a person who cares about his appearance because I feel like people deserve that from you; if they want to see construction workers, they’ll go to a construction site.”
Since his 1994 debut, It’s My Turn, Colionne has crafted a solid foundation in the music world. National attention came with the hit “High Flyin’” in 2003 from the disc, Just Come On. His 2008 CD, No Limits, features a mix of cool jazz grooves and soulful funk.
“‘The Big Windy Cat’ will be the next single and be released in about two weeks,” he said from a tour stop in Chesapeake, Va. “I started playing this little hook line, and my piano player John Blasucci was like, what is that? I said, I don’t know, but I’ve been playing it the past few days whenever I pick up the guitar. So we started grooving with it, and we gave it our usual name, ‘Groove No. 2.’ ”
Blasucci suggested the name change to pay tribute to the guitarist and his home base in Chicago.
Colionne will blow into town to play at the fifth annual African-American Festival, which will take place Saturday and Sunday, July 11 and 12, on UT’s Scott Park Campus. He’s set to hit the stage Sunday at 4 p.m. The concerts will go from 1 to 9 p.m. each day. Cost is $6, $5 for seniors, and free for children 2 and younger.
“I walk on the stage with the idea that I’m going to have me some fun and just let it go because I believe as a performer, people come out to see you and they come to be entertained, to hear some music, and have fun,” he said. “Money is hard to come by. If they come out there, I want them to know I’m giving you everything I’ve got to give; I’m leaving everything I’ve got today on this stage for you.
UT Scott Park Campus
Saturday, July 11
1 p.m. Priscilla
2:30 p.m. Skip Turner Band
4 p.m. Ramona Collins
5:45 p.m. Joyce Cooling
7:30 p.m. The Manhattans
Sunday, July 12
1 p.m. Friendship Baptist Church Choir
2:30 p.m. First Creation
4 p.m. Nick Colionne
5:45 p.m. Alexander Zonjic with the Motor City Horns
7:30 p.m. Rance Allen
Sponsored by Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union