Interview | Nicki Bluhm Readies Gramblers For Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

Written By: Chad Berndtson

:: Interview - Nicki Bluhm ::

Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers have been hitting the road hard behind their eponymous new album, which has been justifiably praised coast to coast as an essential document of one of the scene’s most vibrant young bands.

[Photo by Michael Kaiz]

JamBase caught up with Nicki ahead of the Gramblers’ appearance at this weekend’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival to hear about the past few months and what’s next for the band in 2014.

JAMBASE: So let’s start with what’s coming right up. What does Hardly Strictly Bluegrass mean to you?

NICKI BLUHM: I’m a native Bay Area resident and have lived here all my life so obviously Hardly Strictly Bluegrass has a great reputation of being a premier festival here. It’s iconic. It’s an uppercut of music and an amazing gift to the city to be providing all of this for free. We’re pretty excited.

JAMBASE: And you’ve played it before?

NB: I have. We played it last year with my other band, Brokedown in Bakersfield, and it was great. It’s much more than bluegrass now and I think we were well-received.

JAMBASE: I imagine you’ve gotten to the point where you can prioritize which festivals the Gramblers play.

NB: They’re always good for us for exposure. We certainly need it – it’s a really great way to get new fans. Typically we make a list at the beginning of the year and list out the festivals we really want to try to do, the venues we want to play with and even musicians we’d love to tour with. We put it out there and it works. But [festivals] are also great ways to network with other musicians, check out other musicians and find bands you’d like to tour with or invite on tour with you.

JAMBASE: From the musician’s perspective, is the overall festival scene healthy again? We’ve had this up-and-down period where some pretty well-known festivals declined and shut down, and then new ones formed, too.

NB: I think things are healthy. We were at Bonnaroo and Newport and I think those sold out. People still crave those traditions – it means a lot to them that they’re part of it and the festival’s history. Hardly Strictly is that way also, definitely a darling of a festival.

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