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About Tim Bluhm
Also known as lead singer and guitarist for eclectic West Coast group Mother Hips and one-time guitarist/keyboardist for his then-wife's project Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers, Tim Bluhm released a more intimate version of alternative country-rock as a soloist. After releasing four albums with Mother Hips in the '90s, he issued his solo debut, Land & Sea Chanteys, in 1999. With a folksy charm and a '70s singer/songwriter demeanor, he released three more solo albums during the 2000s, all while continuing to tour and record with his band, collaborating with Nicki, and appearing on albums by artists from Little Wings to Jackie Greene and Hiss Golden Messenger. After sustaining serious injuries in a speed flying accident in 2015, a year that also saw his divorce, he rejoined Mother Hips for their 2018 release Chorus. Bluhm released his fifth solo LP, the more old-school country-styled Sorta Surviving, in 2019.
Born in Torrance, California in 1970, Tim Bluhm was a student at California State University, Chico when he co-founded Mother Hips with guitarist/singer Greg Loiacono, bassist Isaac Parsons, and drummer Mike Wofchuck. After developing their chops playing covers at parties around campus, they began to focus more on original material and moved up to the club circuit, building a regional fan base in advance of their self-released 1993 debut, Back to the Grotto. Co-produced by Bay Area musician Paul Hoaglin, Back to the Grotto established the Hips as rising stars with legitimate buzz and before long, they'd earned a major-label deal with Rick Rubin's American Recordings imprint. An alternate version of their debut with some newly recorded material was re-released by American in March of 1995, setting the table for their follow-up, Part-Timer Goes Full, which appeared in August of that year. Expanding their fan base through national tours and appearances at the H.O.R.D.E. Festival, the Hips also made quick work of their third album, Shootout, which appeared in 1996. In spite of their critical success, the band's output for American wasn't putting up the desired numbers and they were soon dropped from the label. Having moved from Chico to the Bay Area, Mother Hips saw their first lineup change with John Hofer replacing Mike Wofchuck on drums. This coincided with a move toward a more stripped-down, back-to-basics country-rock approach which they employed on 1998's self-released Later Days. Over the next few years, the group remained mostly in California, touring occasionally up and down the coast. During that time, Bluhm released the self-produced Land & Sea Chanteys, his first solo album, on Hufa Records in 1999.
Mother Hips returned with the more power pop-oriented Green Hills of Earth in early 2001. In March 2002, bassist Parsons left the group and was replaced by Paul Hoaglin, co-producer of the band's first two albums. By September, however, Loiacono also wanted a break and, following a pair of shows at San Francisco club Slim's in February 2003, the Hips went on an indefinite hiatus. A few months later, Bluhm teamed up with California Recordings to release The Soft Adventure/Colts, a combined EP/LP set with recordings dating back to the mid-'90s.
While he and his bandmates took some time off to pursue other projects, a pair of 2004 documentaries, Stories We Could Tell and This Is the Sound, covered Mother Hips' journey up to that point. The hiatus proved to be short-lived, however, and by late 2004 the band had resumed gigging. In 2005, they released the Red Tandy EP, whose title track was featured in the popular video game Rock Band. That same year, Bluhm issued the solo album California Way on Fog City Records. Unlike his prior releases, it featured only his voice and acoustic guitar.
Mother Hips' next full-length, 2007's Kiss the Crystal Flake, also had a pair of songs that were featured in Rock Band, further boosting their popularity. Meanwhile, Bluhm followed up with 2008's more fully arranged House of Bluhm, this time on Big Sur Recordings. His band then released Pacific Dust in 2009. Over the next two years, Mother Hips bassist Hoaglin had become increasingly unreliable and was subsequently fired in February 2011. In September of that year, the Hips issued the archival four-disc box set Days of Sun and Grass in honor of their 20th anniversary. Around that time, Tim and his wife, singer/songwriter Nicki Bluhm, released the collaborative album Duets.
At that point Mother Hips had already begun recording their eighth album, Behind Beyond, and despite his departure from the band, Hoaglin was asked to complete his parts for the recording with his replacement, former Frank Zappa and Fear bassist Scott Thunes acting as the new live bandmember. The album was self-released in May 2013. Three months later, with a mix of rootsy country, R&B, and blues, Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers made their full-length debut with an eponymous record. An official member of the group, Tim also produced the album and wrote some of the songs. The following year, a collection of unreleased outtakes and rarities from Mother Hips' mid-'90s stint on American Recordings was released as Chronicle Man, and in April 2015, Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers followed up with Loved Wild Lost. Mid-year, it was announced that Nicki and Tim were parting ways, both personally and professionally.
In September of 2015, Bluhm suffered a serious accident while speed flying (a mix of skiing and paragliding). Following his recovery, Mother Hips entered the studio to record 2018's Chorus, their first album of original material in five years. With a classic country focus, the Tim Bluhm solo LP Sorta Surviving followed on Blue Rose Music in 2019. With production by Widespread Panic's Dave Schools, it was recorded with a full band. ~ Marcy Donelson & Timothy Monger
- Torrence, CA
- Jul 22, 1970