You won’t hear the good-natured hippie-soul man say a bad word about the show, but you also won’t get much reaction of any kind asking Nicholas David about the current season of NBC’s “The Voice.”
“With a new baby at home, the times I have been able to sit down to watch it, I usually fall asleep,” confessed the St. Paul-based singer, who made it to the final episode of Season 3 in December.
The key word there was “home.” The artist formerly known as Nick “The Feelin’ ” Mrozinski, 32, has been hanging out with his wife and three kids as much as possible since he finished in third place on the top-rated show. Thus ended the most successful run by a Minnesotan on a TV music competition since Limited Warranty topped Ed McMahon’s “Star Search” in 1985.
Once a guy who played four or five gigs a week around town, Mrozinski finally returns to the local club scene to perform his first full post-“Voice” gigs Friday and Saturday at First Avenue. The dude hasn’t exactly been lying low, though — at least not in his hometown.
He sang “God Bless America” at the Vikings-Packers game in December and the national anthem at the Twins’ season opener. Over the winter, he sang at a presidential inauguration ball in Washington, D.C., and made two surprise appearances at First Ave: first with the ’60s-bred TC Funk & Soul All-Stars at 89.3 the Current’s birthday party, and again with Alexander O’Neal and other ’80s-era Prince affiliates at Bobby Z’s heart fundraiser.
“I feel like I’m at least a small part of Minnesota music history now, so I feel honored doing those things that honor the history and the tradition of this place,” he said Monday, a day after returning home from a trek to a charity black-tie gala at the Kentucky Derby.
Likewise, he said, tradition dictated his choice of First Ave for this weekend’s gigs over a theater or his old stamping grounds, the Cabooze: “First Ave has always been a portal or steppingstone for someone who’s about to step up to the next level of their career.”
Mrozinski’s profile obviously enjoyed a huge uptick from “The Voice,” and he sounds confident he can capitalize on it in the coming year. While some of the singers from the show remain under contractual obligation, he was recently freed to do his own thing.
“That’s what I was hoping and praying for, honestly, because now I can kind of navigate my own path better,” he said, citing “several interesting offers” for recording contracts that he will weigh in the coming months. “It was nice to kind of have a waiting period, because then we could kind of see who really is interested in me.”
He’s not waiting around for label support to get started on his next album, though. With about 10 new songs written and five pretty well recorded, he is hoping to have the record out by the fall. Asked for a description of the music, he quoted “The Voice’s” bandleader Paul Mirkovich’s opinion of it: “Like Mumford meets Maxwell.”
“I’ve had no shortage of things to inspire me” as a songwriter, Mrozinski said, noting that the record won’t include “Lean on Me” or other classic songs he sang on TV. Much of the recording took place in Los Angeles, where he worked at Ameryacan Studio, started by “Ghostbusters” theme star Ray Parker Jr.
“It’s been such a trip, doing things like recording at Ray Parker Jr.’s place or meeting with Mick Jagger’s lawyer, all sorts of seemingly random encounters like that,” he said. “So many people have said they want to help me, that I remind them of what the music business used to be about.”
He expects to see some of his suitors at this weekend’s gigs. He originally scheduled a Friday one-nighter that sold out, so a Saturday show was added. Each will feature his longtime backing band the Feelin’.
Even though he didn’t need any help selling tickets, Mrozinski announced last week that some his closest cohorts from “The Voice” will join him at First Ave. His “She’s Gone” battle-round competitor Todd Kessler and fellow cast-off Melanie Martinez were added to Friday’s lineup and will stick around for the second show, while Scottish runner-up Terry McDermott and bear-huggy No. 4 finalist Trevin Hunte will perform Saturday along with Martinez and Kessler.
“It’s my way of saying thank you to them for their support and friendship on the show, and it’s a way for us to continue building bridges to each other after the show,” he said.
While still wrapping his head around his whirlwind experience on prime-time TV, Mrozinski explained in his usual spiritually toned manner why he has no regrets.
“The thing I’m most proud of is I didn’t have to change who I am or go far outside my comfort zone,” he said. “The whole thing from start to finish was about having faith. That’s always been a part of who I am, and will continue to drive me moving forward.”
Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658 • Twitter: @ChrisRstrib