The German poet, Berthold Auerbach, once wrote, “Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”

Jerry Nichols, 52, of Vidor, works as a security guard during the day. But, he performs with his band every chance he gets and when he steps on stage, it is like a whole different world.

“There is no place that makes me any happier than being on stage,” Nichols said. “When I play music, its time to let my hair down and leave the problems behind.”

Nichols never studied music during his childhood in Wynne, Ark. But, his older sisters took piano lessons when he was four years old. The teacher and his sisters would do the lessons and Nichols would just listen to them nearby. After the teacher left, he would practice on the piano what he had heard. Even though he can’t read music, he was the pianist for the church by the time he was 10 years old just by hearing the music he loved.

His mother and siblings all played musical instruments and would often have a “jam session” which still occurs when they get together. However, his father often joked, he “could not play a radio without static.”

His taste in music is not limited to one type.

“Just any type of music fascinated me,” Nichols said.

Over the years, Nichols has learned to play several instruments such as lead and bass guitar, keyboards, drums, a five-string banjo and a mandolin.

Nichols moved to Texas in 1989 and worked in the drywall business for 25 years. One thing which remained the same was music. It was always a part of his life. He met some people and formed a band, Texas Thunder. They started playing in local “honkey-tonks.” One band member who has remained constant throughout the years has been Ronnie Herrera.

“He’s a fantastic musician,” Nichols said.

Nichols added, Herrera is the “jokester” of the group and is known for pulling pranks.

“He’s got a story for everything,” he added.

Nichols also when on stage is known for his jokes and poking fun at his large stature but what really shines through is his big heart and love of music.

The most requested song is an old favorite of many people. According to Nichols, the song most people want to hear played is the 1979 Gene Watson hit, “Farewell Party.”

During his younger years, Nichols wanted a career in music. However, he was never in the right place at the right time. But, his talent has carried him far and he was opened for many famous stars such as Lee Greenwood, Steve Warner and Clint Black.

Those wanting to see a live band on Friday nights can see Nichols and his seven piece band at Benoits Louis Hall located at Highway 12 and FM 1132. They play traditional country with some newer top 40 country hits in the mix. They also play 60s and 70s rock and roll.

‘I just love it,” Nichols said. “It’s in my blood.”

The “high energy” act can sometimes get a little “crazy.” The band often stops to have “story time” to talk about “crazy cajuns’ or “three old ladies” which often gets the crowd to share in a laugh or two.

According to Nichols, the hall is a family oriented place with a smoke-free environment. Those wanting to drink alcohol can bring their own. There is a $10 cover charge per person to get through the doors. But, it is often sold out and it is best to call ahead and reserve a table, according to Nichols. For more information call 409-651-5018. The hall holds up to 200 people and as the music begins the dance floor is flooded with boot scooting fun.

Nichols is said to be a  “laid back” guy.  But, when he steps on stage, people are often surprised at the difference. He admits he sometimes gets nervous, but that too goes by the wayside once he is on stage.

“I have been doing this so long, it doesn’t bother me much anymore,” Nichols said.

When not performing with his band, he also can be seen performing with only two or three people. He also travels within a 100 mile radius to perform.

No matter where he is playing music, his biggest fan of 32 years, also known as his wife Judy, is always nearby. She is often seen helping out with the equipment or the lights.

“She is not just a spectator, but is there by my side,” Nichols said. “I would not be where I am today without my wife and kids.”

Nichols knows each time he steps on the stage, he is taken from his everyday life where the music begins and leaves the problems behind while it washes away the dust, but never the stardust.

Jerry Nichols performs with his band, The Texas Thunder.