The past 30 days have been pretty exciting for Nicki Bluhm. First was the Hangout Music Festival in Gulf Shores, AL, playing alongside of artists like Tom Petty, Stevie Wonder and Trey Anastasio. This was followed by a couple of CBS This Morning spots highlighting the Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers “Van Sessions” as well as a live spot on Saturday morning. The “Van Sessions” are videos produced by the band, taken while driving from show to show. They feature the band playing tunes, unplugged, in their van and are viewable on YouTube. Then it was a string of dates on the East Coast, opening for Gov’t Mule. Several nights, Warren Haynes even invited Nicki and some of her Gramblers on stage to perform with his band.
Next up it was Warren Haynes’ Ninth Annual Mountain Jam Music Festival in the Catskill Mountains in New York, and then a week later, opening up Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, TN. All this and she’s about to release a new album in late August. What a month! It seems like everything is going right for the San Francisco Bay Area band. Not so fast! After wrapping up their spot at Bonnaroo, the band was due in Little Rock for a show at Stickyz, which had been postponed from March this year. In Nashville the band realized that the brakes had failed in their rental van, and all of a sudden, the six hour drive to their next gig looked improbable.
The band reviewed their options, and put their creativity to work, and after what I assume was a game of Rock, Paper Scissors, they patched together a stripped down version of the Gramblers and made it to the show, albeit “A Little (Too) Late.” Leaving their drummer, Mike Curry and their Tour Manager, Scott Itamura behind in Nashville, they switched into a smaller vehicle and grabbed their acoustic guitars and bass, and made it to Little Rock. They performed a very intimate acoustic set, playing some of their favorites like Go Go Go, Til I’m Blue, Barbary Blues and Before You Loved Me, as well as some covers by the Grateful Dead (Sitting on Top of the World), Stevie Wonder (Loving You Is Sweeter than Ever), and Hall & Oates (I Can’t Go for That).
The band played until after last call, and everyone stuck around for the whole show. It was a fun evening that turned out to be a good example of making the best of a bad situation. Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers were heading next to Tulsa, OK, where they will reconnect with their drummer and tour manager. Then it’s out West, where they’ll open up for the Steve Miller Band in Lake Tahoe, NV on June22. Nicki’s new album will be released August 27, and they’ll be playing at the Troubadour in Los Angeles for a release party that night.