Upon hearing the unique and refreshing sound of Nicki Bluhm, it becomes immediately clear why she is in the midst of a breakout year. Nicki has filled a void in music with her brand of vintage-tinged rocking country soul -- music that's like an enchanting friend you've known for a short while but feels like you've known forever.
In 2011 alone, Nicki has moved with grace and style from the studio to the main stages of the nation's most revered music festivals (Outside Lands, High Sierra, Strawberry, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass), where her strong voice, striking presence and penchant for songcraft have made an undeniable impression and received rousing reception from audiences of all ages.
Nicki's story began at a New Year's Eve party where she sang an Allman Brothers song, catching the attention of musician/producer Tim Bluhm (Mother Hips). With Tim's encouragement, Nicki began to write her own songs and perform in public. The two fell in love and married, followed by the recording of Nicki's debut album, Toby's Song (2008), which was heralded as one of Jambase's top ten albums of the year.
Nicki's music took on a life of its own with the formation of a band with childhood friend and lead guitarist Deren Ney. Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers grew with the addition of drummer Mike Curry (Jackpot), bassist/vocalist Steve Adams (ALO), and rhythm guitarist/vocalist Dave Mulligan. The band headed into the studio and emerged with Nicki's sophomore album, Driftwood (2011), a collection of songs that evoke the AM magic of Linda Ronstadt, the honest charm of Johnny and June Cash's duets, and the stoney sounds of retro Memphis soul. "Part Karen Carpenter and part Grace Slick, Bluhm's voice moves effortlessly between softer, country tinged balladry and retro '60s/'70s rock," No Depression declared.
Since Driftwood's release, Nicki has performed with her band, as a duo with her husband, as a vocalist for West Coast supergroup Brokedown in Bakersfield, and as the special guest of countless musical legends. She has been called on to share the stage with Chris Robinson, Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Steve Kimock, Jackie Greene, Pegi Young and Josh Ritter; and has performed on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno." Nicki is currently touring and has a new album with Tim called Duets.
There's no question that Nicki Bluhm is the "It Girl" of San Francisco's storied music scene. Luckily for us, the future is looking even brighter for rock's rising star.
Sean Rowe is a singer songwriter in the best tradition. His lyrics have depth, edge, and emotion and there is a melodic strength to all of his songs. Add to this a warm basso voice that has been described as "dark yet tender", "all sandpaper, honey and smoke" and you have a distinctively original artist, who is as much at home on the stage with his guitar, as he is alone in the wilderness to which he periodically retreats for inspiration.
Sean grew up in Troy, New York listening to the blues, 60's soul, and Bob Dylan. Next on his sonic radar were the Stones, the Beatles, Iggy Pop and Velvet Underground and "in the early 90's" he says, "I drew my inspiration from the likes of Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits". Sean was already playing and writing at the age of 13 –"you think about stuff, sometimes you catch the moment, sometimes it runs deeper. When it strikes a chord, you gotta express it in music. That's what I do – just a songwriter with a guitar"!