“My grandfather, Walter Cicenas, played violin in the Indianapolis Symphony,” says Nick Cisenas. “This was in spite of the fact that he was legally blind! That’s the kind of musical background I come from. We overcome adversity when it comes to expressing ourselves musically.
“For my part, I suffered a pretty serious shoulder injury back in 2008 which totally knocked me out of playing music for a while. And honestly, it still hurts a bit if I play for a long time. But it’s time to get back to it. It’s too important to me to let it go.
“I suppose I should back up a bit and tell the story that came before that injury in 2008. My father, Mark Cisenas, was a very gifted musician. He played in several bands like Vicious Blend and Square One. He was actually a good friend of Greg Ziesemer, who many people will remember from his time here in Madison. Greg is a heck of a singer and player.
“Anyway, dad played a lot of instruments, like guitar, keys, harmonica and bass. But he didn’t play drums. So naturally I was recruited to be the family drummer. I took some lessons and I got to where I could hold a beat. But I gravitated to guitar and bass.
At some point when I was about 17 years old some friends asked me, had I ever met Jimmy Davis? They said he was this great guitar player and I might like to play with him. And it turned out I’d grown up like half a mile from his house, but I’d never gotten to know him. He was a couple years older than me.
“But in time I did meet Jimmy, and he asked me to play bass in his band. And we played a lot of gigs over about a 10 year period. Like, a whole lot. That was back in the Madtucky Band days, and then at Jimmy Davis Band. So many shows at JoeyG’s and the Electric Lady. Great memories. But then I injured my shoulder and I really couldn’t even hold a bass anymore.
“Now it’s been 12 or so (years) and the shoulder is mostly healed. So I picked up the old bass and I let Jimmy know I was available. The first big show back was the big Boone Derby Party over at Richwood Plantation back in May. Man, I practiced for six weeks before that gig, learning all the songs.
“And it was great! All the wonderful things l like about performing and playing with other musicians came flooding back. It really wet my appetite. I’m ready to get back to a regular playing schedule.
“I will say after being out of the game for over a decade that the important things have not changed. The spirit and ambition among the area musicians are still there. Most of the players get along very well, with a lot of cross-pollinating and collaboration.
“And the scene has gotten even bigger and better, with the Taproom and the Red Bicycle Hall and Mad Paddle all featuring regular live music. I’m sad to see the Electric Lady is still not open to the public and going strong. I spent a lot of time on that stage, for sure.
“But for my part, I just want to get out there again. Get back to playing steady. Maybe write some new songs. I’m seeing guys again from 10 years ago and they’re all saying, man, it’s great to see you out again. Well, it’s great to be out, that’s for sure. And hopefully I’m here to stay this time!”
HOT TIP OF THE WEEK
If you look at the Thursday calendar you will see something special ... Thursday music is back at Off Broadway Taproom! Owner Ryan Shaw is getting back to his full five-day a week schedule as fast as he can. On Friday AND Saturday at Mad Paddle Brewstillery you can catch Nashville recording artist Rhonda Funk. I caught her show several months back at Mad Paddle and she is the real deal. Check her out. And on Saturday at the RiverBoat Inn there’s a band with a great name, Mike Milligan & Steam Shovel. Sometimes that’s all the reason you need! See you out there.
Charlie Rohlfing is a retired advertising man and partner in The Red Bicycle Hall music venue. Look for his distinctive fedora bobbing above the crowd, anywhere live local music is happening.
This Week in Music
Thursday, June 24
Off Broadway Taproom — Two Buck Chuck
Elk’s Lodge — Robbie Davidson (open to public)
Mad Paddle Brewery — Jordan Tyler, Acoustic on the Patio
Friday, June 25
Lytle Park — Live Lunch with Pat Younger (11:30 a.m.)
Cuzz’s Bar (Vevay) — Old Man River
Mad Paddle Brewery --Rhonda Funk, with Joe & Deano
Off-Broadway Taproom — Vaguely Familiar
Saturday, June 26
Mad Paddle Brewery — Rhonda Funk
Goodwill Cons. Club — Full Moon Rising
Riverboat Inn — Mike Milligan & Steam Shovel
Thomas Family Winery — The Famous Amy Noel
Off-Broadway Taproom — Music TBA
Moose Lodge — Country Bourne
Big Blue (Vevay) — Headbangers Ball!
Sunday, June 27
Stream Cliff Farm — Jimmy Davis
Tuesday, June 29
Off-Broadway Taproom — Open Mic Night