On Friday night, the breezy sounds of San Francisco roots rock was represented at the Brooklyn Bowl in New York, with Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers playing a headlining set and The Mother Hips opening for them.
Rock band the Mother Hips got the night started off with a set of sunny California rock. Having been formed in the 1990s by members Tim Bluhm (Nicki Bluhm's husband, who's also a member of The Gramblers) and Greg Loiacono, the group has plenty of performance experience and it showed on this night. They layed down some tasty jams and heavy rock riffs reminiscent of early Led Zeppelin. The mixed-age crowd were happy and it was a great way to get the night started.
After a break, Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers took to the stage and jumped into a slow and funky "Barbary Blues," capped off with Nicky on kazoo. The pop stylings of "Hey Stranger" was recognized by many in the crowd, and the excitement level rose when guitarists Tim Bluhm and Deren Ney led a guitar charged "Another Rolling Stone." The Rolling Stones influenced rhythm of the song loosened up the audience and got people dancing.
"Check Your Head" mellowed out the room's energy with its R&B influenced flavor. "Till I'm Blue" really showcased the sound of the band, as Nicki and Tim traded verses over acoustic strumming. Featuring a slinky rhythm and a hint of attitude in Nicki's vocals, "I'm Your Woman" was dedicated to the ladies in the audience.
The cowboy rock and roll stylings of "Stick With Me" was followed by an extended version of "Squeaky Wheel" that had Mother Hips guitarist Greg Loiacono guesting in. A hint of The Grateful Dead's version of "Deep Elem Blues" could be heard in the fast paced song, which got the appreciative crowd shuffling their feet.
One of the highlights of the night was the band's take on the Janis Joplin hit "Piece Of My Heart." Nicki's passionate vocals bounced off the walls of the venue as she sang it passionately while displaying her vocal range. The crowd loved it as everyone's faces were lit up with smiles.
Hints of a Fleetwood Mac influence could be heard in the next song, "Ravenous." The band ended their set with an energy driven "Little Too Late" and a stellar cover of the Grateful Dead's "Dire Wolf," in which the deadheads in the crowd were seen singing along.
Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers "Dire Wolf" (Grateful Dead Cover) at Brooklyn Bowl, NY 9.19.2014 (YouTube Video)
The crowd was hoping the band would come back out for an encore, as cheers and hollers echoed throughout the Brooklyn Bowl. When they came back onstage, the group performed their version of the Mother Hips tune "White Headphones" before releasing the crowd into the night with a soul grabbing ballad of "Kill You To Call."
Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers will be continuing their East Coast tour with the Mother Hips before heading back out west. For further music, news, and tour information, check out their Zumic artist page. Below, you can check out more pictures from the night.
All photos by Francesco Marano