Recommended if You Like
Bob Dylan Greg Brown Lyle Lovett

Genres You Will Love
Rock: Folk Rock Folk: Modern Folk Moods: Mood: Intellectual

By Location
United States - United States

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Niki Leeman

"Niki Leeman is an American original. I get lost in “Love, Death, and Resurrection”, wishing the charts were full of songs like these-brilliant like Dylan, hooky like Paul Simon, as intoxicating as Greg Brown, with a voice that makes you believe every word. Prove me right. Listen. "
─ Tom Prasada Rao, Singer/Songwriter

Niki Leeman, born and raised in the San Francisco bay area, recalls when he first began writing: “I started writing poems when I was 8 for no reason I can remember. I bought an electric guitar at fifteen because I wanted to write songs. In the beginning I wanted to be Bruce Springsteen. Then I heard Bob Dylan’s “Blood On The Tracks” and everything changed, so I swapped my beautiful Gibson SG walnut electric and all my rock-star pretentions for an acoustic guitar and hit the road. After hitchhiking and hopping freight trains around the country for a few years, I ended up in Greenwich Village in 1981, smack dab in the middle of the incredibly vibrant Fast Folk music scene, which included Shawn Colvin, Susan Vega, David Massengill, and Jack Hardy. I played street music all over NY in those days: the subway, the square, and the Staten Island ferry (which was a quarter back then). I was the minstrel vagabond, living for poetry and song, and very much alive.”

“In 1984, with a guitar, a bag and 200 bucks, I boarded a plane for Europe and landed in Paris. I played music across Europe for 5 years. Those were colorful times – I got a dog, the infamous Ghandi, learned to juggle at the World Juggling convention in Liege, Carnival in Venice, a commune in Denmark, Oktoberfest in Germany - a lot of characters, a lot of stories, a lot of songs.”

Niki returned with Ghandi to the Bay Area, joining a thriving music scene which included artists Keith Greeninger of City Folk, and Chuck Brodsky, who Niki had become close friends with after meeting at the Tattoo Rose Café in San Francisco in 1980. “As well as playing all over the bay area, I took a job driving a San Francisco Yellow Cab just like Harry Chapin, and became a sound engineer at the famous Freight and Salvage music venue in Berkeley where I did sound for many of the biggest names in folk.” After a trip to Texas to play the Kerrville Folk festival in 1993, Niki, Chuck, and fellow singer/songwriter Tom Payne, were so inspired by the music community they discovered there that they co-founded the Camp California Concert Series, an immensely popular endeavor which ran for 7 years and hosted some of the finest singer/songwriters in the United States. Niki also managed and played at the Showcase stage at what was then the fledgling High Sierra Music Festival before moving to Santa Cruz, where he became a local favorite. He won the first Santa Cruz songwriter contest, and Santa Cruz legend Keith Greeninger has been covering several of Niki’s songs for over 15 years. Mike Connor of the Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote:

"Diamond Mines" is a lesson in open tunings and rootsy allegory, with each verse more poignant than the one before. "Riverbanks" is more of a bittersweet love song to God with a broke-down edge: “Come on, God, confess / You're crippled, fragile and helpless / Tell them you don't have a clue / We're on our own and so are you".

After more than three decades of performing and songwriting, Niki released his long-awaited first CD in 2009, “Love, Death and Resurrection”, a collection of haunting, soulful, and enchanting songs and stories. Niki has long had a reputation for thought provoking lyrical poetry and metaphor – these songs will capture you, heart and soul, and remain with you long after your first listen. Niki counts some of the finest musicians and songwriters in the United States amongst his friends, many of whom lent their talents to this recording, which was produced by award winning singer/songwriter Keith Greeninger, and features performances by Keith, Ellis Paul, and Louise Taylor, to name a few. Jim Kloss, founder of the legendary Whole Wheat Radio had this to say:

“If I had only 5 CDs to take with me, out of the thousands of independent music CDs we've aired, this would be one of them. The lyrics, the arrangements, the performances ... everything about this CD makes one stop, listen and revel in discovering such a superb CD/artist that few know about. Get it.”

Niki is constantly writing and collaborating with other artists and songwriters, and is currently recording his next CD. “I still have a thousand songs rattling around in my head, and I’m planning on recording as many as I can in the coming years.”

"Niki Leeman writes songs few would have the courage to write. He probes the beautiful and the ugly, the true and the false, the shallow and the deep, the real and the unreal, the comfortable and even the uncomfortable. We met as 20 year olds and pushed each other for years and years as songwriters, holding each other to nothing less than the highest standards. I know what a great songwriter he is, and I think more people ought to know. "
─ Chuck Brodsky, Singer/Songwriter