Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers amped for return to North Tahoe | SierraSun.com

Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers amped for return to North Tahoe

CRYSTAL BAY, Nev. — When Nicki Bluhm thinks about playing at North Lake Tahoe, she thinks about the late Blake Beeman.

Having performed at the North Shore's Crystal Bay Casino for nearly a decade, Bluhm grew well attuned to CBC's once-longtime sound engineer, Beeman, who died of cancer two summers ago.

"Blake was a really dear friend of ours, and he made our time there really special," said Bluhm, a San Francisco-based singer-songwriter. "We're happy to continue on the tradition of playing that room and remembering him."

The soulful folk singer will do exactly that Saturday when Bluhm and her backing band, the Gramblers, take the stage of the CBC Crown Room.

"We're really excited," Bluhm said. "The people in the community of Tahoe — locals and tourists — always have really good energy and are positive.

"And with the holidays, people like to rally together and make traditions — and we're all about making traditions."

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And having fun, Bluhm added.

"There are moments where we get a little introspective but for the most part we like to have a good time and put on a party," Bluhm said.

On Saturday, Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers will stir up a festive vibe with a cocktail of folk, rock, pop and soul that drips of vintage influences.

Bluhm's warm vocals and vivid storytelling-lyrics call to Joni Mitchell — "my favorite songwriter," she said. Layered underneath, the band's effortless blend of harmonies nods to The Mamas & the Papas.

Along with Bluhm, the five-piece alt-country outfit features her husband and multi-instrumentalist Tim Bluhm, lead guitarist Deren Ney, bassist Steve Adams, rhythm guitarist Dave Mulligan and drummer Mike Curry.

The group is on the heels of its sophomore studio album, "Loved Wild Lost," which was released last April on Little Sur Records.

Collaborating with producer Brian Deck (Iron and Wine, Modest Mouse and Josh Ritter, among others), Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers unraveled a record that American Songwriter magazine called, "an album that gently pushes boundaries on the group's established country pop while reaffirming a commitment to easy rolling melodies and Bluhm's inviting, honeyed vocals that remains their most impressive asset."

Prior to her ventures with the Gramblers, Bluhm put out two solo albums: "Toby's Song" (2008) and "Driftwood" (2011). She and Tim Bluhm also laid down a duet record straightforwardly titled "Duets" (2011).

Though, really, Nicki Bluhm has been playing with the Gramblers since the beginning.

"I made my first record, 'Toby's Song,' and I wanted to put the record out and have a release party," she said. "And I wanted the live music to represent the full band that's heard in the recordings, so I put a band together in 2008."

That collection of friends and fellow musicians was what became know as the Gramblers.

"It's pretty much been that (band) ever since," Bluhm continued. "We're all really good friends, we've all known each other for a long time. It was kind of a built in community, so it all just fired in the right ways."

Read more about Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers at nickibluhm.com.

If you go

What: Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers

When: 9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 28

Where: Crystal Bay Club Crown Room

Tickets: $18 (advance); $22 (door); $38 (booth seat)

Info: crystalbaycasino.com