Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers churn out a classic breed of road warrior music. It's fitting, especially considering the band has crisscrossed the country so many times they've spawned a popular YouTube series out of faithful covers set in their van, bumping along between stations. Our recent session with the band was a tad less dangerous; nobody had to keep their eyes on the road, no seat belts required. Instead, the five piece set up shop at Baeble HQ to perform a threesome of songs, including cuts from their most recent album Driftwood, their 2008 album Toby's Song, and some newly released a la carte singles. "It's A Little Too Late", "I'm Your Woman", and "Jetplane" throw a knowing nod to classic 70s country rock, but lucky for us, the sun drenched twang this Californian band specialize in is very much of the here and now.
I don't mind if you are stay up all night as long as you play I won't try to keep your colors in the lines when you feel like straying I don't wanna be the one you call ma'am You can take or leave me as I am I walk the mountains, I curl up in trees I got sand in my pocket and where some money ought to be I aint your mamma, I'm your woman, you're my man I won't cry or let it keep me up all night when you are misbehaving So don't whine, cause you could leave anytime but you keep on staying I don't wanna be one you call ma'am You can take or leave me as I am I play my song, I wake up at noon, I sleep in the kitchen and I cook in the bedroom I ain't your mamma, I'm your woman, you're my man I walk the mountain, I curl up in trees I got sand in my pocket where some money ought to be I ain't your mamma, I'm your woman, you're my man I ain't your mamma, I'm your woman my man I started as a solo artist, it was very brief, and then I enlisted Deren Ney, lead guitar player in the band, and when we made our first record, Toby's Song, we wanted to release it with a show and we wanted the show to reflect the album. So, we put a band together and it has been The Gramblers ever since. And we never went back. I mean Darren and I have known each other since we were 6 years old, so there is a real kind of like familiar, you know like childhood bond that you just have when you grow up in the same town as somebody. Tim is my husband and we just all jive really well together. We like a lot of the same music, which I think helps a lot. This song is called Jetplane and it is from our album Driftwood. If you want my love tomorrow Better give it up today Cause I ain't making many plans anymore And I don't know how long I'll stay Well, I felt like losing Was the only thing I could do Rebel rocket came screaming at me Said pack up, shop and look at the view Now I'm like a Jetplane And I don't know my brothers I don't know their pain But each one will tell you The same damn thing That I'm like a Jetplane The idea of tomorrow Is like powder from a gun The villain comes to town And shoots the mama down And still the kids they know "time to run" Life is like a jet plane Life is like a Jetplane It's like a Jetplane It's like a Jetplane It's like a Jetplane It's like a Jetplane Jetplane Jetplane Jetplane Jetplane Jetplane Jetplane Our most current album is called Driftwood and it is on CD and Vinyl. If you like kind of that classic 70s sort of country rock feel, it is very California, lot of harmonies, it definitely harkens back to yesterday. You know the band sessions just started because we were travelling a lot. Anyone that is on the road touring knows how much time you have in the van and how bored you get and we don't have a radio. So, we make music, and it is actually a lot more fulfilling in some ways, you know making music is what we love to do. We wear our seatbelts, and yeah usually we have Scotty driving, he is our tour manager, so we are able to just focus on the music, but yeah we've been pulled over. In fact, once we got out of a ticket because we ended up playing the police officer a song, a Madonna song. This is a song called Little Too Late and it is now available on iTunes. It is for our forthcoming record that we are hoping to put out this summer. I knew you from the day the door got kicked in The gang was hanging around cause we had some things to talk about You were strong, from out of town, Your head up on the moon You needed some place to hide out And our place would have to do Pigeon-toed and guilty just a friend of a friend of a friend You've taken a fall and missed the ground but then just kept on going We never knew just what it was, You weren't no Hester Prynne But you said something before you left That we all could believe in You said: It's not how you swim, it's how you hold your breath It's not about playing fair in this life It's more about cheating death If you don't like getting old Well you'll hate the other choice I'm told Cause it's a little too late to die young It's a little too late to die young It's a little too late to die young It's a little too late to die young The night got long, we sang some songs And we shared some stories too We popped the top of the last cold pop As the sky was turning blue All of a sudden the door crashed in And then came six big police men As they carried you away, you said those words again You said It's not how you swim, it's how you hold your breath It's not about playing fair in this life It's more about cheating death If you don't like getting old Well you'll hate the other choice I'm told Cause it's a little too late to die young It's a little too late to die young It's a little too late to die young It's a little too late to die young One fine day you're looking back You worked ten years and you don't have jack The dreams you had are wearing thin But the new dream just won't let you in Darlin' you want to go out with a flash it's a little too late for that It's a little too late to die young It's a little too late to die young It's a little too late to die young It's a little too late to die young It's a little too late, it's a little too late It's a little too late, it's a little too late It's a little too late, it's a little too late It's a little too late, it's a little too late Go tell your mamma that I got your story I am just really proud of the band, their willingness to go out on the road and to work so hard, and you know just be really committed. I am really grateful for that, really excited for the summer. We are really excited, we will be at Newport Folk festival and Bonnaroo, Mountain Jam, The Hangout and you know we are hoping to have a new record out for the summer. We are looking for labels and shopping around and hoping we find the right fit and yeah.
Nicki Bluhm wasnt always Nicki Bluhm.
It all began one New Years Eve party. Impressed with the talents of Nickis performance when asked to play an impromptu blues song, musician/producer Tim Bluhm (The Mother Hips) introduced himself to the artist, encouraging her to dedicate herself to singing and song writing. It wasnt long before Nicki had begun cultivating a fan base through live performance, one that craved an LP to take home and listen to.
Nicki obliged, and sat down with Tim to record what would become Tobys Song, the artists debut LP released in 2008. It wasnt long before the two were married, and
Bluhms band was ready to come together. The duo grew into a trio, as Nicki recruited Deren Ney, a long time friend, to play guitar. Steve Adams (ALO) would soon hop on board taking care of bass duties, and the group finally felt complete with the additions of Dave Mulligan on rhythm guitar and Mike Curry playing drums.
The full band headed back to the studio in 2011 and released Driftwood, a natural extension of the foundation Bluhm set on Tobys Song. A bit country, a bit folk, a bit rock, and a bit soul, Driftwood carves a unique niche into the San Francisco music scene, the city Nicki now calls home. A majority of the tracks on Driftwood have the lo-fi feel of times past, an homage to the greats of rock and country who blazed their paths on AM radio airways and jukeboxes. While theres still plenty of the Nicki fans fell in love with on Tobys Song to be found on Driftwood, Bluhm and her backing band, The Gramblers, delve much deeper into the artists country and blues roots on the album.
While on tour, to keep busy in the van and provide fans additional content, the band created their self- dubbed Van Sessions videos by recording live van performances (while driving) during tours using a simple iPhone. The series popularity spread organically on the Internet and peaked when their honest, stripped down take of Hall & Oates I Cant Go For That went viral reaching almost 2 million views on YouTube. The video turned on new fans around the country (and other parts of the world) to the bands original music, spiking album and ticket sales to a new level. Subsequently, the band moved into headlining shows around the country, selling out clubs in multiple major markets, and leaving an indelible mark on new fans and promoters with their energetic stage show.
Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers have just released a digital single featuring two new tracks, Little Too Late and Ravenous, are prepping a new LP, and are on an extensive US tour through April 2013.