Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers
Upon hearing the unique and refreshing sound of Nicki Bluhm, it becomes immediately clear why she is in the midst of a breakout year. Nicki has filled a void in music with her brand of vintage-tinged rocking country soul — music that’s like an enchanting friend you’ve known for a short while but feels like you’ve known forever.
In 2011 alone, Nicki has moved with grace and style from the studio to the main stages of the nation’s most revered music festivals (Outside Lands, High Sierra, Strawberry, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass), where her strong voice, striking presence and penchant for songcraft have made an undeniable impression and received rousing reception from audiences of all ages.
Nicki’s story began at a New Year’s Eve party where she sang an Allman Brothers song, catching the attention of musician/producer Tim Bluhm (Mother Hips). With Tim’s encouragement, Nicki began to write her own songs and perform in public. The two fell in love and married, followed by the recording of Nicki’s debut album, Toby’s Song (2008), which was heralded as one of Jambase’s top ten albums of the year.
Nicki’s music took on a life of its own with the formation of a band with childhood friend and lead guitarist Deren Ney. Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers grew with the addition of drummer Mike Curry (Jackpot), bassist/vocalist Steve Adams (ALO), and rhythm guitarist/vocalist Dave Mulligan. The band headed into the studio and emerged with Nicki’s sophomore album, Driftwood (2011), a collection of songs that evoke the AM magic of Linda Ronstadt, the honest charm of Johnny and June Cash’s duets, and the stoney sounds of retro Memphis soul. “Part Karen Carpenter and part Grace Slick, Bluhm’s voice moves effortlessly between softer, country tinged balladry and retro ’60s/’70s rock,” No Depression declared.
Since Driftwood’s release, Nicki has performed with her band, as a duo with her husband, as a vocalist for West Coast supergroup Brokedown in Bakersfield, and as the special guest of countless musical legends. She has been called on to share the stage with Chris Robinson, Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Steve Kimock, Jackie Greene, Pegi Young and Josh Ritter; and has performed on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” Nicki is currently touring and has a new album with Tim called Duets.
There’s no question that Nicki Bluhm is the “It Girl” of San Francisco’s storied music scene. Luckily for us, the future is looking even brighter for rock’s rising star.
It’s hard to pinpoint the moment that songs are born, the day casual hummers become singers or scribblers become songwriters. Rayland Baxter certainly can’t, and he wouldn’t want to. Though he grew up in Nashville to the sounds of his father’s pedal steel, he didn’t dream of being a rock star. He loved music, of course, but he liked other things, too: being outside, playing sports, working at the bait shop to make spare change. He’d always just let things settle into place naturally, following his gut from Tennessee to Colorado to Israel and back again, not knowing that when he returned home he’d have a handful of songs and the knowledge that, at the end of the day, he didn’t want to do anything else but make music. He leads a life without reigns, his work always echoing the ease in which it came to be.
“All of my music has come in a very natural way, by following the organic process of life and letting it just happen,” he says. “I jumped my fair share of ships, and the pieces came together slowly, not by study or design.” The result is a record inspired by a life lived, not one struggling to inspire life. “Down the mountains and the valleys like the breeze,” he sings on “the mtn song,” “we’re going where we want to go, doing anything we please.” He’s done just that, writing songs that are reflections of what he’s seen, felt and lived; the metaphors found in the hills, the slow strums born at home but blossomed across the sea.
He’s spent much of his time on tour: with The Civil Wars, who personally invited him to open, as well as Grace Potter & the Nocturnals. Now Baxter lives in a small, crowded house with five people, four chickens, a dog and a fish named okra near the Nashville fairgrounds, an industrial part of town on the west side of the river. He sleeps in a covered porch with no air conditioning or heat–“like camping,” he says, enthusiastically at that. His hometown has played a vital role in shaping him musically. “There is an incredible group of young artists, songwriters, painters and filmmakers here, just a huge community of really rad people. It’s been vital to have a great creative group of people I can feed off of all the time.”
In the Showroom
Doors @ 7:00 PM
Show @ 8:00 PM
Drop by Motorco to buy advance tickets and save the service charge!