New Years Eve with the Mother Hips and Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers
Monday, December 31st, 2012
El Rey Theater

by Jack Knight

With tickets selling out weeks in advance, it was clear that if there was one show to see on New Years Eve it was Chico’s beloved band, the Mother Hips with special guests Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers. The awaiting crowd filed out of the cold and into the warm theater looking forward to good music and bottles of Celebration Ale the size of your head. For those lucky enough to be there, it was a night to remember.

The dichotomy of the Hips and the Gramblers sharing a bill made seeing them a unique experience. Tim Bluhm is the constant between the two bands, playing guitar in the Hips and keys in the Gramblers, all the while lending his voice to the songs. The osmosis was near complete with guest appearances by Hips guitarist, Greg Loiacono, during the opening set and Grambler shredder, Deren Ney, during the Hips set.

Nicki Bluhm took the stage in her sparkling, purple dress with her band “grambling” to look presentable behind her. With few words of introduction they went right into the groovy rocker, “Before You Loved Me”, which set the right tone for the night to come. The band made the rounds on fan-favorite songs, but what really shone was their new material that we haven’t yet heard on a studio album. “’Til I’m Blue” was fresh and energetic, and showed the band is excited about continually creating. Nicki and Tim’s voices blended once again in intimate harmony that touched their audience.

When it came time for the Mother Hips to take the stage, the crowd was ready; ready to have a spell cast over them by Tim Bluhm’s cryptic lyrics, ready to be melted to butter by Greg Loiacono’s guitar tone, and ready to think, “Who the hell is this tasty keys player and where did he come from?” “He’s a ringer, dude.” The Mother Hips have reached many people over the years and as a relatively new Hips fan I am starting to understand it. They hold a little something for everyone.

They put on a great show, entertaining the crowd until the stroke of midnight. Nicki Bluhm the Gramblers returned to share the stage and ring in the New Year as the crowd all joined in for a joyous countdown. Drinks were shared, kisses were stolen, and some yahoo lit off a bottle rocket in the theater. It was a happy New Year for a crowd full of satisfied fans.

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Jack Knight is a born and raised Chicoan who writes songs and basks in the affable vibes of the our music community. He enjoys collaborating with other local musicians as well as chronicling the scene's happenings for the Synthesis.