Let's make this clear at the outset - on a level radio playing field Jake Nickolai would have kicked suffice goals to earn him national stardom.

But this is the nation that commercial radio forgot and Nickolai, just 22, is doing it the old fashioned way - extensive touring.

And there's also surrogate radio - Pay TV channel CMC - and TV variety shows. CMC featured his debut single Faster and title track of his seven-track ABC Music mini-album Think About You.

Nickolai was one of the headliners on the free Nu Country TV Arts Centre concert on Sunday January 30.

Jake performed with singing sweetheart Kylee Ellis and lined up at St Kilda Palais to have his guitars autographed by expatriate Australasian superstar Keith Urban.

The hotshot Whyalla born guitarist-singer emerged from the same state that was the launch pad for Jedd Hughes and Greencards multi-instrumentalist Kym Warner.

Hughes, Warner and singing spouse Carol Young chased Nashville dreams and thrive in the slipstream of fellow expat Urban.

Jedd released his album Transcontinental for major U.S. label Mercury after earning his road stripes with Patty Loveless and has written songs cut by the Greencards.

Fellow South Australian Beccy Cole hired Nickolai for a national tour to promote her fifth album Feel This Free. (ABC-Universal.)

"He did a gig with me in Adelaide when he was 17," Cole told Nu Country TV.

"He was one of my students at the Country Music College in Tamworth. He'll eventually head over to Nashville. We'll keep him here as long as we can. I have given him a job as support and also guitarist in my band. I'll tie him down so he can pay his dues. I want to help him with his stage presentation."



Teen country is a minefield in the urban jungle so Jake Nickolai chose the televisual route to dodge taste tsars.
The unashamed prodigy of expatriate Australasian superstar Keith Urban launched his debut single Faster and EP title track Think About You through TV.

It's smart marketing for a Whyalla born latter day Mornington Peninsula guitar picker whose youth enables him to connect.

Nickolai, just 21, oozes charisma as he ignites his uplifting title track entrée and stays in top gear for 3 Days Drivin' and Suddenly I - co-written by local teen tonker Mark O'Shea.

Guitarist producer Matt Fell highlights his client's hot picking - especially on his sole original, the instrumental Sidewinder.
Debut single Faster and Kevin Welch penned finale A Little Too Much are punctuated by his cover of Daniel Johns penned ballad Miss You Love.

The artist is untainted by nasal nerve gas of the Australiana army - collateral damage is minimised by Michel Rose and Sam Hawksley on pedal and lap steel and Mark Collins on banjo.

Nickolai is destined to follow Urban and fellow South Australian refuge Jedd Hughes to Nashville but he'll need to ramp up his writing.


Nickolai appeared at the famed Pub With No Beer Festival at Taylor's Arm and Sydney Royal Easter Show during his stint with Beccy.

It's a far cry from when he 5 years old and watched the Ritchie Valens story.

His aunt then gave him a guitar and a year later Jake came third in a local open age talent quest.

That success encouraged him to spend his developing years locked in his bedroom learning guitar licks and establishing a strong technique.

He won a Golden Guitar nomination in 2004, a grand final appearance in the Toyota Star Maker Quest in 2003 and the Trans-Tasman Entertainer of The Year Award in 2002.

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