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ARTIST OF THE MONTH: Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers

Jun 1, 2013

ARTIST OF THE MONTH:  Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers

Well, readers, somehow, we find ourselves halfway through the year, and with the arrival of June comes the official onslaught of festival season.  With Outside Lands, High Sierra, and many more events right around the corner, I urge you to shift your focus to San Francisco and northern coast, particularly to one of the Bay City’s many gifts: Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers, The Sitch’s ARTIST OF THE MONTH for June.

Often compared to Bonnie Raitt and Linda Ronstadt, Nicki Bluhm’s voice leads a band of alternative country rockers (founded with her husband Tim Bluhm, of SF jam band The Mother Hips).  There’s some folk here and Americana soul there, but it’s still rock n roll that emphasizes strong female vocals and killer guitar riffs.

When not touring with The Gramblers, Nicki has found a recent surge in popularity through her video series, The Van SessionsThe concept is simple: a camcorder mounted on the dashboard captures Nicki and her gang simultaneously singing and driving.  After posting over twenty of her covers to YouTube, their rendition of Hall & Oates’ “I Can’t Go For That” went viral, surpassing one million views on YouTube.  While Bluhm is enjoying their sudden online fame, she admits, “[The Van Sessions] are fun to do and certainly keep us entertained on the road, but our vision is to get our own music into the world.”

Nicki & The Gramblers opened The Troubadour a few weeks ago and gave the Southland a little taste of their San Francisco country-soul sound.  I caught up with Nicki before the show to get her thoughts on touring, Los Angeles, and the California music scene:


It wasn’t until recently that we played in LA for the first time.  I have always been very intimidated to play LA.  So many amazing musicians and artists have left unforgettable impressions there.  It feels a bit heavy at times, in a good way.  We’ve played there now 3 times and every time I feel more and more love from the audience.  I really enjoy playing in LA, it seems like people go to shows to listen to the music in a focused way.


Anywhere with good sound both on stage and in the audience wins me over.  I love playing at The Fillmore in San Francisco.  There is so much history.  I think a lot of friendly ghosts must visit there often.  I feel something very special on stage there and the sound is impeccable.


There are a lot of music scenes in the bay area and I can only speak for mine, which is a community of very close friends and family.  We have a very close-knit group of musicians in San Francisco who are all incredibly supportive of each other.  There is a lot of sharing going on and overlap in projects and players.  Lots of good vibes.


My brother was really into the Grateful Dead and him being my older brother and all, so was I.  I still love that music and have had the honor of playing with members of the band.  I’m actually writing this from Terrapin Crossroads (Phil Lesh’s new venue in San Rafael).  We’re on the last night of a four night run here.  It’s been a real pleasure.  Of course, I admire Grace Slick.  She was a real fox, and I always liked how she could hang with the guys.  I’ve heard some cool stories about her from some older bay area musicians and she just sounds like a badass.

Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers will be heading back up the coast for a long summer tour with eventual stops in Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, but will be back in LA for a performance at The Bootleg on June 15th.

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ARTIST OF THE MONTH:  Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers
ARTIST OF THE MONTH:  Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers