June 20, 2012
This was originally published June 20, 2012 in the Hood River News
Jim Drake’s Entertainment Blog
Nicki Bluhm sings songs you know along the way
You’ve got to love the power of YouTube. The other week I received an email from the managing agent for Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers.
I have to admit, I had never heard of her.
But apparently, 2.5 million people have, because that’s how many folks have logged on to YouTube to watch her video “I Can’t Go For That.” (Here’s a link when you’ve got some spare time: http://bit.ly/GQfqQc).
It turned out that Nicki and her band recorded about a dozen of these videos, which they dubbed the “Van Sessions.”
Why the “Van Sessions?” Well, it’ll be obvious when you watch it — the band is playing acoustic instruments and singing — all while touring around the country in their van.
The choice of songs for these videos are pretty much all of the songs you know by heart from the 70s and 80s. But don’t let that fool you. I listened to Bluhm’s latest album, “Driftwood” and there are some majorly-good Americana songs going on here.
And lucky for us, Bluhm and her band stops by on June 22. And my bet is they’ve probably worked up a few new tunes along the way.
Interview with Nicki Bluhm
Where did you get the idea to make a video of driving around and playing hits from the 70s and 80s? My guess it's a nod to the famous movie scene from "Wayne's World," where they sang along to Queen, but I could be wrong....
We started doing the Van Sessions as a way to entertain ourselves on long stretches of touring. Sometimes we have up to 18 hours of driving in a day and without a radio things can get pretty dull. We started teaching ourselves songs from our childhood and recording them for friends and family back home. Learning all the songs we choose is a very fun and interesting process .... so many of these pop songs are much more complicated than you would imagine!
One of those songs was "I can't go for that." My long-time readers know I wrote about attending the 2008 Telluride Bluegrass Festival and actually seeing John Oates perform "Maneater" with Sam Bush. It's great to know that band still influences people to drive around and perform the songs while driving. The cops can't pull you over for that, right?
We love Hall and Oates and so many of their songs. We actually have gotten pulled over by the cops in Salt Lake City, UT. He saw our instruments in the car and asked us to play him a song ... it was actually our Van Session performance that got us out of a ticket!
Let's talk about one more video. Do you think enough people realize that "Islands in the Stream" was written by the Bee Gees? It's so very sad that Robin G. passed away....I wonder if he got to see your version....
I'm not sure if people know the song was written by the Bee Gees. I suppose people might assume it's by Dolly Parton due to her amazing performance of the song with Kenny Rogers.
OK, let's finally talk about your upcoming gig at CEBU Lounge on June 22. Please describe your music, your band, and what people can expect- do you want people to dance or is this a sit down and listen show?
Our music is best described as vintage tinged country rockin' soul. We do mostly original music that is heavily inspired by artists from the late 60's and 70's. I love Linda Ronstadt, Dolly Parton, Emmylou...so many wonderful women in music to look up to. Of course we love when people dance to our music, it is a wonderful expression of joy. We like to have fun with our live performance....nothing is ever too precious.