Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers
Saturday, March 1
Singer/songwriter Nicki Bluhm makes no bones about the fact that the life of a touring musician can be hard, but is not without its joys.
“You’re with each other all the time, and the road can be a very rough place,” she says. “It’s not always comfortable. Like today, we’re doing a 20-hour drive. That wears on you. But the commonality is that you all love what you’re doing and believe in the music you’re making. You become better musical partners, collaborators, friends, and communicators because of it.”
If you know how to amuse yourself, as Bluhm’s found on the road with her San Francisco–based Americana rock group, traveling can be pretty entertaining. To keep things interesting, the band has filmed itself playing a handful of covers while Nicki drives the van. When there’s time, the videos get posted to the band’s site, and some have gone viral. One in particular—a groovy cover of Hall and Oates’ “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)”—has over two million hits. “It started very organically,” Bluhm says of the vids. “We were touring, bored, and didn’t have a radio, so we started singing songs in the van, and it was our bass player’s idea to start recording them. It’s a good way to pass the time.”
Formed in 2007 when Nicki’s bandmate and now-husband—the Mother Hips’ Tim Bluhm—first heard her sing a bluesy number at a house party, the Gramblers have become incessant road warriors; a recent Sunset story reported that its 117-stop 2013 tour logged 57,000 miles.
But as the years and miles accumulate, so do the fans. The Gramblers have garnered press far and wide for its rambling ways (reportedly clocking about 250 miles a day)—not to mention Bluhm’s pipes, which the Boston Herald says are “sexy and soulful” and show a bit of “Janis, Etta, and Amy.”
So many dates gave the group ample opportunity to play some of the songs from its 2013 debut album a full year before it dropped. Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers includes heavy doses of thick, ’70s-era AM-radio rock and roll, and tracks like the first single, “Little Too Late,” deliver Bluhm’s alternately gravelly and honey-sweet vocals just as the Herald describes.
For a group with such incurable wanderlust, finally releasing the album, Bluhm says, “was nice because then we could reveal the rest of the songs.” With Carly Ritter. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9467, neumos.com. 8 p.m. $16. 21 and over.