Whew. July kept me busy--24 shows in 31 days. I keep joking with people that I may need to get a job just to take a break. Of course, I can't complain too much. As I hope my posts have made clear, I've had some great times. The next few months should prove most enjoyable as well. I ain't heard nothin' yet...
Until this show, I'd never heard or heard of Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers. Also, I'd heard of but never heard New Transit. Which gave me two perfect reasons to head down to Neurolux and check out this San Francisco-based group and their local opener.
I arrived good and early and watched the crowd trickle in. I counted almost fifty people by the time that Nicki Bluhm took the stage, most of whom were in their mid-30's or older. Considering the age range of this audience, I thought it appropriate when a selection of 70's classic rock played on the PA system before the show (Tom Petty, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan, etc.). It proved an appropriate preface for the bands as well.
First up was local country-rock quartet New Transit. Although their words touched on partying and outlaws and such, their polished sound came across as less honky-tonk-night-time-man and more I'm-so-lonesome-I-could-cry. But hey, better that than welcome-to-the-Hotel-California. I heard some zingers here and there among the lyrics, Sean Hatton's tenor croon suited the well-crafted tunes perfectly, A. Nigel Gates's bass and Louis McFarland's drums laid down a sturdy groove and Dave Manion delivered some damn fine solos on the Fender and pedal steel.
Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers took the stage not long after New Transit wrapped up. I racked my brains trying figure out who the hell Bluhm's slinky, smoky voice sounded like until her spot-on covers of "You're No Good" and "Tumbling Dice" left no doubt. Bluhm sounded even sexier than Linda Ronstadt, though. Funnier too--busted out a couple of fantastic dixieland solos on kazoo. As for the Gramblers, their electric guitarist's nonchalant shredding stood out most prominently, although a couple of soul and funk numbers near the end gave the drummer some. Overall, I found that their songs of hard-living and hard-loving went down like a shot of Knob Creek: full, smooth and strong.
The others in the audience seemed to feel the same way. They whooped and hollered, although most of them chose to stay in their seats or stand to the side of the dance floor. That is, until Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers unplugged and stepped down from the stage to play a spirited cover of George Michael's "Faith."
You can find info on these groups on Facebook and elsewhere online. Special thanks to Eric Gilbert and Radio Boise.