Their New York Serenade:
Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers to Headline the Bowery Ballroom
Words by Nicole Calascibetta
After Santa Cruz, seven showcases at SXSW 2013, and the release of the “Little Too Late” single, Nicki Bluhm from was on her way to Nashville, TN with her Gramblers, when she found the time to connect over the phone for an afternoon conversation on her evolving artistic endeavors. Bluhm is an artist who describes her music as country-rock and after releasing Toby’s Song  and Driftwood , the vintage inspired singer/songwriter is hard at work with a U.S. tour and a new record.
As a California native from the San Francisco Bay Area, she had a very mellow, west-coast manner in the way she spoke. Bluhm explained, “Growing up in the Bay Area, musical influences like Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead were kind of engrained into my psyche.” She followed with a quick laugh after emphasizing, “I love The Grateful Dead.”
Nicki’s career got its start once producer and musician Tim Bluhm, whose most notable fame resides in fronting American Recording’s West Coast faithful — the Mother Hips, discovered her singing at a party. After encouraging Nicki to pursue her talent, the two eventually began making music together and later on got married. Now, they both perform in Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers along with their own duo Tim and Nicki Bluhm, releasing Duets. “The band is more rock influenced while the duet record specifically is a lot more mellow and folk,” explained Bluhm. She included that she enjoys working creatively side by side with her husband. The Gramblers’ lineup rounds out with Deren Ney, DaveMulligan, Steve Adams and Mike Curry.
It seems as if lately, this mash up category of alternative-blues-country and folk-rock is on the rise and recently, Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers debuted “Little Too Late” and “Ravenous” from their upcoming album, that seem to rock a similar vibe. Although there isn’t an exact release date yet and she didn’t reveal the title, Bluhm stated, “We’re hoping to get it out by the summer.” She went on to explain, “We recorded it mostly live in the studio, it’s most reflective of the band in its current state.” The sessions are taking place in San Francisco at Tim Bluhm’s Misson Bells Recording, located on the outskirts of the city’s famed Mission District.
About a year ago, listeners were given a different kind of musical experience from the band through a series of “van sessions” posted on You Tube. The videos captured Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers jamming out while traveling in their van between shows, performing covers like “I Can’t Go For That” by Hall and Oates and “Faith” by George Michael. Bluhm explained the idea developed out of boredom on the road and it surprisingly wasn’t long before the videos became an online sensation. “It was a good way to pass the time,” she said and went on to laugh about how they never expected the “van sessions” to become popular.
When I brought up her style, Bluhm asked, “Have you seen Woody Allen’s film, Midnight in Paris?” After admitting that I actually haven’t seen it, she described how the film represents the concept of everyone having their own idea of a “golden” era and while she might draw from some old school influences, she’s making the most of her own time.
Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers will be performing Tuesday, March 26 at World Café Live in Philadelphia, PA and Wednesday March 27 at Bowery Ballroom in New York, NY.