Why you should care
Country-soul-rock band slash married couple Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers could be just like the iconic couple bands we all know (minus the divorce and domestic abuse).
The last few weeks have been busy for Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers: praise in Rolling Stone, the late August release of their new, self-titled album, a series of sold-out shows and another jam-packed cross-country tour continuing through October, including appearances at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass and the Nashville Americana Music Festival.
It’s a dream come true for the rapidly rising country-soul-rock band. Their Van Sessions went viral last year on YouTube, proving that sometimes the easiest, cheapest form of marketing – like an iPhone rubber-banded to the rearview mirror recording the band’s sing-a-longs at 70 miles per hour – often trumps far flashier efforts, like the Gap’s “Icon Redefined” campaign, in which Nicki starred. Two morning shows on CBS garnered some attention. Still, nothing hit as big for the band as their Van Session rendition of Hall & Oates’ “I Can’t Go For That,” which has amassed 2 million viewers and counting. (In August, Nicki was invited up on stage by Daryl and John themselves to close out San Francisco’s Outside Lands festival.)
There has been so much attention on the band’s skyrocketing success and its lanky female leader, who actually prefers Wrangler jeans to the Gap’s — and does them proud. It’s easy to forget who got this party started: Nicki’s husband and bandmate Tim Bluhm, a longtime musician-producer, who “discovered” the future rock star — and his future wife — one night backstage at a Mother Hips show. “I heard her sing, and that was it,” he says.
They’ve been joined at the hip ever since, sharing not only a San Francisco home (perpetually listed on Airbnb, given their travel schedule), but also a tour van, a motel room, a suitcase, occasionally even a tongue scraper. Plus, they share a passion for, as Nicki puts it, their Plan A: to sing, together, forever.
“The tandem bike is sort of joke, showing how we are together all the time,” says Nicki by phone, on her way to Yosemite with a girlfriend for a four-day backpacking trip, before the tour kicks off. Where’s Tim? Alaska. “We try to be apart when we can. It’s good to miss each other.”