Nicki Bluhm to play her sun-kissed music at Newpark
When fans listen to the music of Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers, they can hear all sorts of styles folk, country, rock and soul.
"I think having a little bit of warm, sun-kissed California vibe in the music was something that appealed to me," Bluhm said during a phone interview from her home in San Francisco, Calif. "I wanted to make the type of music that you can play in your car when your driving on a sunny day, and I wanted the music to be able to take you back to a place when things were more simple and carefree and groovy and good."
Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers will play those good-vibe tunes during a free concert at the Newpark Town Center at Kimball Junction on Thursday, Aug. 2, at 6 p.m.
Bluhm blames her desire to create laid-back tunes on her musical tastes.
"I got my first guitar when I was 17, and at that point the only people who influenced me were my two older brothers," she said. "One played guitar, and still does, but they both listened to the Grateful Dead and Bob Marley, so I was forced to listen to their music a lot."
Bluhm was also affected by the pop music of the late 1980s and early 1990s, but then discovered older musicians whose styles resonated with her.
"I started listening to a lot of Linda Ronstadt’s early stuff and, of course, Bonnie Raitt and Dolly Parton," Bluhm said. "I also love Fleetwood Mac.
"Those different artists trickled in throughout the course of my life, which was really cool because there are a lot of different influences in the music which the band and I play now," she said.
Bluhm said music is meant to be played anytime and anywhere. That’s why she not only plays with the Gramblers guitarists Deren Ney and Dave Mulligan, drummer Mike Curry, bassist Steve Adams, and Bluhm’s husband Tim, who is also the guitarist and vocalist for The Mother Hips but also plays solo and records duet CDs with Tim.
Bluhm and the Gramblers also posts videos of the band singing covers of other artist on their Band Sessions link on http://www.nickibluhm.com . Usually these videos are filmed while traveling in their van from show to show.
"These musical outlets are totally different beasts," Bluhm explained. "We enjoy doing them, but have found that each of them bring a different emotion and mood to our music making.
"For example, the Band Sessions are silly and goofy and we play songs that makes us laugh," she said. "Deren, Dave and I were all born in the same year and we all gravitate to the same sort of songs, but Tim is a little older, so it’s pretty much a sure thing when the three of us pull up a Paula Abdul song from the early 1990s,Tim will not want to be a part of it. But when Tim and I do the duet stuff, we are a little more focused."
Earlier this month, Bluhm and the Gramblers re-released their 2011 CD "Driftwood" on 12-inch vinyl.
The main reason was because she and her husband are vinyl aficionados.
"Tim and I are huge collectors and that’s pretty much all we listen to when we’re at home," she said. "There is something special about vinyl, because it’s bigger than a CD. You can old it in your hands, and look at the artwork on the cover.
"You also have to be attentive to the songs because you have to flip it over to play side two," Bluhm said. "There’s also the added crackle on the needle, and I think there is such a warmer sound that isn’t heard on a CD."
The other reason Bluhm decided to remaster "Driftwood" for vinyl was because of a video she made.
"The video had a fake vinyl album in it, and when people saw it, we got a bunch of requests asking us where they could get a copy, so our management decided it would be a good idea to make a real one."
Although pleasing her fans is important, Bluhm said the fans also help the band while it’s on the road.
"One thing I’ve learned is that we can play any place in the world and if the audience is good, the show becomes fun and fabulous," she explained. "I don’t think the audience realizes how important they are in making a good show for the artist. It’s way more fun to play to people who are attentive than to play in a super-chatty bar.
"But I’m not complaining," Bluhm said. "I have a pretty neat job. I love traveling and seeing different parts of the country. None of us is stuck behind a desk and doing something we don’t want to do."
Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers will play a free concert on Thursday, Aug. 2, at the Newpark Town Center, 1476 Newpark Blvd., at Kimball Junction. The concert will start at 6 p.m. For more information, visit http://www.mountaintownmusic.org.
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