It wasn’t all that long ago that San Francisco’s musical family Bluhm were singing wistful ballads about their shared dream of having their own tour bus to luxuriate — or at least travel — in.
Nicki, the willowy, stately front woman of the band that bears her name, sings with heartfelt sweetness to her man, singer/songwriter/guitarist/pianist Tim to “think about the two of us, riding along on our own tour bus,” in the song “Think About the Two of Us,” released on a record called “Duets” several years ago. Tim’s reply is classic, and telling of a band and a man who has done their fair share of miles in the close quarters of an Econoline: “Let’s not get crazy!”
But the time to get crazy may just be now for The Gramblers, who play the Snowmass Village free concert series Thursday night. Following hit performances at some of the top festivals in the world over the past year — from a standout show at the Newport Jazz Festival to a (very) rare standing ovation on Sunday morning of this years Telluride Bluegrass Festival, to their first-ever appearance at the vaunted Red Rocks Amphitheater on Friday night, the band has ears turning in their direction from all around the globe.
“We feel so blessed to play our music at venues like Newport and Telluride, it’s really a huge honor,” says Nicki. Husband Tim is more than happy to agree. His “other” band (well, one of them) is none other than The Mother Hips, the influential psychedelic rock band that has toiled in relative obscurity for almost 25 years, cranking out scads of incredibly moving rock, country, blues, folk and “California Soul” (blend it all up and pour it over a tall cup of Beach Boys) songs to solid critical but nearly indifferent commercial acclaim.
“It’s a dream of ours to play these types of venues in such beautiful places,” said the male Bluhm.
The roots of their ascension towards the top rungs of festival fliers can likely be pinned on a random cell phone video of the band singing a series of pop cover songs while smushed into a van on one of their relentless cross-country tours. It was their kazoo-tinged version of Hall and Oates “I Can’t Go For That” that caught a fast, sustained fire across the Internet, leading to appearances on Conan, CBS This Morning, guest turns on Karl Denson’s newest record, and a massive new fan following. As the “van sessions” made their way around the Internet, music fans took to the band’s unassuming, good-timing vibe.
Now that they are able to spread out, for the most part, in the almost-regular Prevost tour bus that ferries them from town to town, the Gramblers can focus on spending their (relative) down time doing fun things like sleeping (“as much as possible,” chuckles Tim), chucking Frisbee in parking lots, drinking beer (Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, originated in Chico, California, where The Mother Hips were formed, is the official drink of Grambler Nation, though Colorado’s Coors suits Tim just fine) and recording “summer singles,” like the bouncy, bluesy “Another Rolling Stone,” a song written by tour buddies The Easy Leaves, out on iTunes this month.
“Since the bus rolls on overnight after shows, it gives us more time in the days that we didn’t used to have, since we would drive at those times. This spring we decided to put that newfound day time to good use,” says Nicki. “We’ll take it!”