The BoDeans

The BoDeans (10:00 PM)

Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers (9:00 PM)

Wed, May 16, 2012

8:00 pm

Adv Tix $20.00 / Day of Show Tix $23.00


This event is all ages

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The BoDeans - (Set time: 10:00 PM)
The BoDeans
“I’ve always thought of the BoDeans as a truly American band,” says Kurt Neumann, the founder, primary writer and frontman of the veteran Milwaukee-based group. “We were blue-collar kids straight out of the heartland—how could we be anything else? ‘Roots rock’ was a label I fought when I was younger, but I came to realize that if by ‘roots’ you meant blues, rock, country and soul all slammed together into one sound, then I’d say yes—that is the sound of American-made music.”
Neumann fully embraces that notion on American Made, the BoDeans’ eleventh album. Its dozen songs are laced through with strands of indigenous roots elements—Heartland hoedown folk (“American,” with guest Jake Owen spinning out the guitar solo), Celtic-rooted mountain music (“Walk Through This World,” “Flyaway”), zydeco (“Everything You Wanted”), Southern roadhouse soul (“Don’t Bring Me Down”), Chicago blues (“Shake the Fever”) and 100-proof roots rock (“All the World”). These tracks are played with heartfelt emotion as well as jaw-dropping skillfulness by the band—Neumann on vocals and guitars, original member Michael Ramos (Patty Griffin, John Mellencamp) on keyboards and accordion, longtime BoDeans bassist Ryan Bowman and new member Warren Hood, a fiddle/violin virtuoso from Austin.
As it turns out, the album title bears a thematic resonance as well as a stylistic one. With American Made, the BoDeans have created a soul-stirring song cycle that directly reflects the American experience at this critical moment in our history. The album—which also includes a powerful rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire”—was inspired by Neumann’s blue-collar upbringing and his desire to express what a great country America remains, despite its troubles and the challenges facing it today.
“As we’ve moved into the new millennium, we’ve begun to question our identity as Americans—who we are, or who we want to be,” says Neumann. “With the onset of the Tea party and the Occupy movement, it feels like we’re pulling in two very different directions. The song ‘American’ talks about this land of ‘endless possibility,’ and ‘Where else in the world you ever gonna find this kind of ideology?’ We’re lucky to have the rights and opportunities that we have, but I believe those rights come with a responsibility to help each other along. It’s wrong to stockpile millions or billions of dollars while all your neighbors struggle to survive. It feels like we’re losing the common sense that has always guided us, and that worries me. We’re so out of touch with each other—and just trying to find an American-made product has become almost comical. I wanted to bring that all of that to the surface—hence the album title.”
If American Made is about resilience in the face of daunting obstacles, the same can be said of the unforeseen circumstances that led to the album’s creation. Sam Llanas, one of the original members, left the band last year in order to launch a solo career, the news coming just one day after the release of the band’s previous LP, Indigo Dreams. When Llanas quit, Neumann could have thrown in the towel, but he chose to stick with what he’d begun nearly three decades earlier as the band’s driving force and the architect of its sound. So he and his fellow band members
cinched up their belts and carried on. Since then, Neumann has discovered that while unexpected change can be difficult, it can also be revitalizing.
The first order of business was to come up with a cohesive batch of material—Neumann didn’t realize going into the process that it would yield what amounted to the most intensely personal songs he’d ever written.
On “Jay Leno,” Neumann metaphorically invokes the name of the pop-culture figure in recounting a traumatizing childhood experience. “When I was eight years old, growing up in Milwaukee, my family and I came home on a frigid February evening to find our back alley lined with police cars,” he recalls. “Someone had found a young girl’s dead body in the garage next door to my house. Even at a young age, I’d seen a lot of violence in our lower-income neighborhood, but this really shook me up, and my family as well. Soon afterward, my parents moved me and my brother out to Waukesha, a small town just 20 miles west of Milwaukee, but it seemed like a world away from my old neighborhood. I’m not sure why I decided to write a song about it, but as I worked on it, I realized that in a sense this girl may have saved my life. People take drastic measures to get out of poverty, and I’m sure my life would have turned out very differently had we not moved.”
“Chemical” was inspired by growing up with an alcoholic father, and by the many other chemically dependent people in Neumann’s life. “With my dad, even as a kid I could see the writing on the wall,” he says. “I used to feel like there was something he was looking for at the bottom of that brandy bottle. At one point, I called AA trying to find some place I could take him to get help, but the guy on the other end of the line told me I was a fool for trying. He told me I couldn’t help him, that he needed to make that call himself. Sure enough, a few years later, he dropped dead; the booze had killed him.”
As for “I’m on Fire,” Neumann says, “Springsteen’s lyrics have always spoken to me. I know exactly what he’s talking about—I’ve grown up with the same feelings in my gut. This is one of a handful of his songs that I felt I could even approach. I’ve sung it for years. While we were in the studio, we blew it down for fun and it just turned out really nice.
“On another level,” he points out, “the record was inspired by the pop music I listened to on the radio as a kid, feeling the mesmerizing energy busting out of that tiny speaker. As always, I’ve tried to tap into that energy in my songwriting.”
When he’d completed the new material, Neumann called on John Alagia (Dave Matthews, John Mayer, Jason Mraz, Ben Folds) to produce and mix the record, with the exception of “Jay Leno,” which was mixed by Jim Scott (Wilco, Tom Petty), who’d worked with the band in the mid-’90s. Determined to make the best possible album no matter the cost, Neumann sold his truck, one of his most treasured possessions, in order to cover the cost of recording at L.A.’s state-of-the-art Village Recorder, where the band had worked in years past with T Bone Burnett. Alagia brought in Victor Indrizzo (Beck, Sheryl Crow) to play drums. They tracked the entire album in just three days.
Thanks to Neumann’s renewed passion and determination, the BoDeans are still going strong a quarter century after their Burnett-produced debut Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams led them to win a Rolling Stone readers’ poll as “Best New American Band,” and nearly 20 years after their “Closer to Free” became a massive hit and the theme song of the sitcom Party of Five. The BoDeans continue to tour the U.S. year-round, exposing the kids of their longtime steadfast fans to heartfelt, trend-free, American-made music.
But things could’ve turned out very differently. Neumann acknowledges that Llanas’ abrupt departure had triggered an intensive and extended bout of soul searching, causing him to question the basic assumptions he’d carried with him through the life of his band.
“In my frustration, I asked myself, What is BoDeans?” he says. “Is it me, or someone else, or the music. I thought about all the letters people have written me over the years explaining how our music had played an intimate role in some part of their lives—a wedding, a death, a celebration, growing up, growing old. And I came to the realization that the key to the BoDeans’ identity is the fans’ connection to our music. So the inspiration for this record is just that—to carry on with what I started many, many years ago, and to do it for as long as people continue to feel that connection. That’s why I’m so excited about this record. I’ve been humbled by the notion that the fans have given me the chance to go on.”
Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers - (Set time: 9:00 PM)
Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers
“Our music definitely hearkens another era,” says Nicki Bluhm, “but at the same time, we want
it to be contemporary. Reflective of now even though it nods to other times. We want it to be
vintage modern.”
With Loved Wild Lost, Little Sur recording group Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers fully affirm a
current place in the long winding continuum of the California Sound, born of folk, rock, country,
psychedelia, blues, and pop, as ageless, adventurous, and ever-adaptive as the Golden State
itself. The album – which follows the Bay Area-based band’s eponymous 2013 debut – sees Nicki
Bluhm & The Gramblers teaming with producer Brian Deck (Iron & Wine, Modest Mouse, Josh
Ritter), their first time working with an outside collaborator. The result is the critically acclaimed
band’s most compelling collection thus far. The richly layered sound forms the ideal foundation
for Bluhm’s remarkable voice and resonant lyrical gifts. Added color is provided by San
Francisco’s Magik*Magik Orchestra (Death Cab for Cutie, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, The
Walkmen), whose multifarious string arrangements amplify the album’s sound.
Three years of new experiences and nearly non-stop roadwork has had a powerful effect on The
Gramblers, spurring creative growth and personal reflection. Songs like “Love Your Loved Ones”
explore life’s seismic shifts, what Nicki describes as “the struggle to retain the energy and
optimism of youth as life becomes more complex.”
Multi-instrumentalist, co-songwriter, and Nicki’s husband, Tim Bluhm is the quintessential Golden
State musician. Tim has been known for two decades as singer/guitarist/primary songwriter in
beloved SF rock ‘n’ rollers The Mother Hips and as an in-demand producer, session player and
collaborator. Tim & Nicki first assembled The Gramblers in 2008 to serve as Nicki’s road band in
support of her two Tim-produced solo outings. The line-up soon gelled into its current state,
comprising Nicki’s childhood friend, guitarist/songwriter Deren Ney, bassist – and ALO co-founder
– Steve Adams, rhythm guitarist Dave Mulligan, and drummer Mike Curry.
It quickly became clear that Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers was more than a talented singer/
songwriter and her backing musicians – they were a band. As such, what was initially planned as
Nicki’s third solo record became Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers’ self-titled debut album. Nicki
Bluhm & The Gramblers propelled the band to national attention, earning praise from American
Songwriter as “a modest, melodic gem (that) neatly combines the rustic vibe of The Band with
the more polished approach of Buckingham/Nicks-era Fleetwood Mac.”
The Gramblers toured hard, logging over 200 shows in 2012 alone, including headline tours and
festival appearances at Bonnaroo, Outside Lands, Hangout, Newport Folk, Telluride Bluegrass and
Warren Haynes’ Mountain Jam. National notice rolled in, with Bluhm being featured in The Gap’s
worldwide “Shine” campaign in support of their “Icons Redefined” collection and widely viewed
TV appearances on CBS This Morning and TBS’ Conan.
When time came to record a follow-up, The Gramblers decided it would behoove them to work
with an outside collaborator. A phone conversation with Brian Deck – a veteran studio hand and
founding member of Chicago’s Red Red Meat – affirmed him as a producer that could be trusted
to help forward the band’s overall goals.

In spring 2014 The Gramblers held 10 days of pre-production sessions at a friend’s ranch in coastal
Pescadero, allowing them uninterrupted time to woodshed and collaborate, to share songs and
experiences. More importantly, the band needed to settle back into a studio dynamic, to pull
back from the inevitable sonic “leaning forward” that comes from three solid years playing clubs
and theatres.
“You have to reset,” says Tim, “make sure you’re playing songs that are going to sound good on a
stereo in someone’s house or in their car, not just on the stage.”
“We just really wanted to work out the kinks without wasting Brian’s time later,” Nicki says. “We
wanted to come prepared.”
In August, Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers convened at Panoramic Studios in Stinson Beach for two
weeks of serious recording. Deck “really kicked our ass,” says Nicki. “The vision was ours, but
Brian helped our musicianship, our communication. There was a kind of professionalism in the
studio that we needed to push us to the next level. Brian’s a drummer and I think its great to
have a musician as a producer – they get it. They understand because they’ve lived it.”
Together Deck and the band made a conscious effort to hone The Gramblers’ sound, fusing a
framework of archetypal musical idioms into something unique and universal, its individual
elements complementing and counterpointing the songs’ deeper themes.
“On the last record there’s a little bit of soul, a little bit of country, a little bit of rock,” Nicki
says. “This record, we were trying to make it much more cohesive.”
“The sound is becoming more unique,” Tim says. “An entity unto itself.”
Loved Wild Lost has the sprawling energy of lives in constant transition, manifested in both its
contemplative lyricism and expansive sonic palette. Time spent in the van moves slowly and yet
passes in an instant, newlyweds become old married couples, strangers become friends become
family, wide-eyed innocents become grizzled veterans of the road.
“I think you can clearly hear all that happening in these songs,” Tim says. “Idealism and optimism
losing control to the forces of inertia and a life of constant traveling. Happiness becomes an
intention and love becomes a long term study of oneself and of one another.”
The band’s approach is both wide-ranging and ambitious, yet always united by a devotion to clear
committed songcraft. The band’s three songwriting members all brought in material, with Nicki
and Tim contributing the majority. In some ways, Loved Wild Lost can be like listening in on a
private conversation between the Bluhms, with all the secrets and truths of their marriage
hidden in plain sight.
“Your songs are like a diary in code,” Nicki says.
“Of course there’s subtext to all of these songs,” Tim says. “I probably shouldn’t admit that,
because then it’s not really subtext.”
“It’s so comforting,” Nicki says, “when you feel all these emotions that you can’t even put your
finger on, but then somebody says it in a song and it encapsulates that feeling that you had, it
helps you navigate your life. It puts words to it. Tim’s songs have always done that for me. He’s

able to lasso these huge concepts and put them into these perfect phrases. He’s inspired by so
many things which is inspiring to me.” Tim-penned songs like “High Neck Lace” allow Nicki to
articulate herself on a vast array of subjects, spanning aging, personal politics, intense
psychological observation, the search for meaning, and the very mysteries of life itself.
Meanwhile, songs like “Mr. Saturday Night” see Nicki’s own songwriting prowess growing in
melodic strength and lyrical candor, “really getting my insides on the outside in an uninhibited
way.” Inspired by a photo of a cowgirl in rose covered regalia, her “Queen of the Rodeo” might
well be the album’s emotional heart, a singular and slightly subconscious expression of her own
amazing journey.
“In my head I was writing a character,” she says. “But listening back during pre-production I
realized it was much more autobiographical than I had ever intended it to be. I got hit with, wow,
I am totally talking about myself and I didn’t even know it. It’s all very metaphoric of course; it’s
about working really hard and moving through obstacles and still maintaining your inner strength.
Because it’s really hard – it’s hard to be a woman in this industry, it’s hard to be a woman on the
road, it’s hard to be married to a band mate. I think that song was a way for me to release
whatever I’d been holding because it came out a lot more personal than I thought.”
“There’s a blind spot that every songwriter has,” Tim says. “That’s one of the things I love about
Nicki’s songs, there’s an innocence to her voice, her lyrical voice, that I definitely don’t have
Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers are now ready to kick start the cycle once more, with all the
infinite roadwork and new experiences that entails. Loved Wild Lost reverberates with invention,
passion, and spontaneity, but it is but a milestone on a band’s endless highway.
“As the story of The Gramblers unfolds I get new ideas about the directions it could go,” Tim
says. “Every time you go around a corner there’s a new view that shows you something that you
haven’t seen. It’s always changing and you have to respond to the feedback the world is giving
“I can’t tell the future,” Nicki Bluhm says. “I just want us to stay open to whatever feels best.”
Venue Information:
9081 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90069

All lineups and times subject to change