Sitting back in a corner of the crowded and noisy upstairs bar at Oskar Blues, a popular nightclub and micro brewery in Lyons, Colorado, the very talented George Nelson applied a magical musical touch to his keyboard as he sang the blues, upbeat jazz standards, Broadway Show tunes, classics from the 30’s and 40’s, pop, soul and country that comprises his extensive repertoire. On that Saturday night, Colorado Magazine Online was on hand to shoot some photos and video and enjoy the entertainment. George is able to play almost any tune on request and he even played one request that came in via cell phone from Scottsdale, Arizona.
Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, George first came to Colorado in the 60’s, when he was stationed at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs. He stayed in Colorado until 1978, at which time he moved to California with his family. He returned to Boulder with his family in 1979.
A natural born musician, George had no formal musical training. He said he started trying to play the piano when he was young and, “It just came together.” As a teenager, he played piano with a group.
His first job came about one night in a club at the Palmer House Hotel in Colorado Springs, while he was in the army. When he sat down at piano and started playing, the bartender asked if he wanted a job. He took it. He worked there for a year. He later played at the The Beefeater Restaurant -Bar in Colorado Springs - for 7 years.
George plays a wide variety of music, but he doesn’t prefer any particular type. He says, “I just like to express myself with different music as it comes together - I like to jump around quite a bit.” His inspiration from other musicians is, “an endless list.” He grew up listening to “..gospel and blues and all kinds of music.” The music of Ray Charles has registered the strongest influence on his musical style.
Although he has composed some original music in the past and wanted to compose songs after he got out of the army, he felt that there was not much of a market for it at that time. He is still thinking about doing some original compositions and he notes, “I have some tunes running around in my head that I want to try to put down one day.”
George has recorded a couple of CD’s. “Beautiful Weekend” is available online from: http://cdbaby.com/cd/gnelson
George has performed in hotels, clubs
and restaurants, and for corporate events, private parties and public celebrations
throughout the Denver-Boulder metropolitan area, and venues in California
He has played the Boulderado Hotel's Mezzanine and Corner Bar in Boulder, the Denver Chop House, El Chapultepec and Jonathan’s Restaurant in Denver, the Castaways and the Antler’s Hotel in Colorado Springs, The Raven Hill Restaurant in Georgetown, and the Hyatt House in Beverly Hills, California. His appearances have also included performances for the Petroleum Club, the Colorado Avalanche Christmas Party, and Denver Broncos Superbowl parties.
A highlight in his career was when he worked in the resort town of Manitou Springs near Colorado Springs at the Castaways - a restaurant and showroom where he opened shows for national acts, including Ray Charles, Bill Cosby, Les McCann, George Duke, Frankie Avalon, Glen Yarbrough, Joe Russell of The Persuasions, Spyro Gyra, Billy Preston, the Stan Kenton Orchestra, Hazel Miller, Gene Bass, Billy Tolles, JoJo Williams, Fred Fuller and Billy Rich.
He currently plays the third Saturday of each month at Oskar Blues, and he plays at the Pearl Street Pub on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder one Sunday night per month. He plays regularly at the Adam’s Mark Hotel in Denver on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 6pm until 10pm. He also plays at the Raven Hill Restaurant in Georgetown once or twice a month on varied Saturday nights.
George can be contacted at 303-286-9729 for engagements or schedule information. He is available for private parties and functions.