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Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers made a needle’s-eye leap onto the national music circuit in 2012, bringing with them a refreshing sound, spirited stage show and wellspring of good vibes, along with a turntable and milk crates stocked with their favorite vintage vinyl for backstage sustenance.

Now, the San Francisco-based band and its striking front woman with a girl-next-door demeanor step out with Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers, a luminous, heartfelt patchwork of California folk-rock, brisk Americana and show-stopping soul, punctuated with fresh four-part harmonies, crisp rock guitar and Nicki’s soaring, nuanced vocals that some critics say remind them of Linda Ronstadt. The first record under the banner of the full band, Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers is very much a family album, featuring 11 new songs penned by the band members, arranged and produced by Nicki’s husband and the band’s musical director, Tim Bluhm, and recorded at the Bluhm’s Mission Bells studio in San Francisco.

The lead single “Little Too Late” kicks off the proceedings with a fun and funky punch of soulful rock and an anthemic quality to the lyrics that quickly made the song a fan favorite at live shows in the months prior to the album’s release. Also released in advance of the album, “Ravenous” marks a departure for the band as Nicki flirts with her dark side, urged on by haunting echoes of classic Fleetwood Mac. Tim and Nicki’s great love of country music and Americana storytelling takes center stage in the sparkling “Till I’m Blue”, an enchanting ode to lasting love, as well as in “Deep Water”, Nicki’s endearing telling of life lessons learned. Bluhm family friend Steve Poltz, best known for his collaborations with the singer Jewel, contributed the coaxing soul waltz “Check Your Head”.

There is an evergreen quality to the band’s music that resonates with music lovers across ages and time zones, fans who are touched by the band’s natural, bright-eyed charm and timeless expression of life and love. “We make music that generations of friends and families can share,” Nicki offers with a quiet confidence. “For me, there is a tenderness, a humanness. It’s about getting down to the basic level of bringing joy. We’re a fun, honest group of people who love traveling and seeing the country. I’m with my husband and my best friends, we’re so lucky to be doing this, and we’re so grateful for those coming out to visit with us.”

With such an earnest appreciation for every moment of the grueling work and endless hours required for touring “uncharted waters,” as she puts it, one can imagine Nicki almost pinching herself to prove that this really is her life -- and rightfully so. She never saw any of this coming.

Tim and Nicki’s paths first crossed at a house party, when someone passed a guitar to Nicki. Though she’d never before sung in front of a crowd, she took a chance and belted out an impromptu blues number, immediately catching Tim’s ear. It was a spark-plug moment that evolved into the two playing music together, followed by Tim mentoring Nicki as she developed into a career singer/songwriter. As love blossomed and marriage ensued, the couple created and released Nicki’s debut solo album, Toby’s Song (2008).

The formation of Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers happened in similar organic fashion, when Nicki recruited her childhood friend, Deren Ney, to play lead guitar in her new band. Dave Mulligan accepted an invitation from Nicki to join the Gramblers on guitar and vocals while out hiking with the Bluhms one day. Bass player Steve Adams and drummer Mike Curry each got the call from the Bluhms and agreed to double-time it with their existing musical commitments. When not working with his own band, the Mother Hips, Tim takes his place on guitar, keyboard and vocals. Nicki’s second album, Driftwood (2011), earned numerous positive reviews and put Nicki and the Gramblers in front of a wider swath of show goers across the western U.S.

It was during this time that the band’s “Van Sessions” video for Hall & Oates’ “I Can’t Go For That” went viral and introduced Nicki and band to the world of their endearing, stripped down versions of classic songs as well as to an existing catalog of original tracks from Nicki’s two previous solo albums. They went back on the road and quickly developed into a tight knit, six-piece headlining act, logging over 200 dates in 2012. In 2013, Nicki and the Gramblers’ touring schedule has included auspicious sets at Bonnaroo, Newport Folk Festival, Hangout Music Festival and Mountain Jam, as well as being featured on network television by veteran journalist Anthony Mason for “CBS This Morning”.

Drew Holcomb

Mar 22, 2015

From the artist's facebook page:

Some artists are able to articulate a vision at the very beginning of their career, while others hone their craft over time, growing into their vision as they mature.

Jon Anderson

Mar 15, 2015
Jon Anderson Website

When Jon Anderson and some of his fellow Brits formed Yes some 45 years ago, they helped launch the genre of music that would become known as progressive rock. King Crimson, Genesis, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Rush, and others would soon follow, and all of these bands helped raise the level of musicianship in rock across the board. Yes went on to sell tens of millions of records—elaborate works filled with Anderson’s epic lyrical tales of mysterious worlds and forces, all backed by complex yet often melodic arrangements that the rock world had never before experienced. From 1969 to 1979 Yes released an incredible string of 11 albums, and Anderson fronted the band until 2008.

As a solo artist, Anderson has found the time and energy to release 13 albums over the years. Jon’s solo music is quieter and more spiritual than his work with Yes but no less powerful in its own way. He’ll be playing plenty of both at the Wheeler Opera House on Friday night.

More info on the show: http://www.wheeleroperahouse.com/events/detail/jon-anderson

More info on Jon Anderson: http://www.jonanderson.com/

Robert McDuffie

Mar 15, 2015
Robert McDuffie

Grammy nominated artist Robert McDuffie has appeared as soloist with most of the major orchestras of the world, including the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics, the Chicago, San Francisco, National, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, St. Louis, Montreal, and Toronto Symphonies, the Philadelphia, Cleveland, Minnesota Orchestras, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, the North German Radio Orchestra, the Düsseldorf Symphony, the Frankfurt Radio Orchestra, the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, the Hamburg Symphony, Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala, Santa Cecilia Orchestra of Rome, Venice Baroque Orchestra, Jerusalem Symphony, Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Mexico, Orquesta Sinfónica de Mineria, and all of the major orchestras of Australia.

He gave the World Premiere of Philip Glass’ Violin Concerto No. 2, “The American Four Seasons” a work written for Robert McDuffie with the Toronto Symphony. During the 2010–2011 season, McDuffie completed a 30-city U.S. tour with the Venice Baroque Orchestra, pairing the Glass Four Seasons with the Vivaldi Four Seasons. He has also played the Glass with the National Symphony of Mexico, the Düsseldorf Symphony, the Hamburg Ballet, the Nashville, Louisiana, San Diego, Dallas, San Antonio, and Colorado Symphonies, the Poznan Philharmonic of Poland, the Prague Philharmonia at the Prague Spring Festival, with the Scottish Ensemble in Glasgow, the Amsterdam Sinfonietta in Holland and Belgium, at the Belgrade Music Festival, and, paired with the Vivaldi Four Seasons, with the Zürich Chamber Orchestra at the Zürich Tonhalle.

Robert McDuffie is the founder of the Rome Chamber Music Festival. He was recently awarded the prestigious Premio Simpatia by the Mayor of Rome, in recognition of his contribution to the city’s cultural life. He served for 10 years on the board of directors of the Harlem School of the Arts in New York City where he was chairman of the artistic and education committee. Mr. McDuffie holds the Mansfield and Genelle Jennings Distinguished University Professor Chair at Mercer University in his hometown of Macon, Georgia. Robert McDuffie lives in New York with his wife and two children. He plays a 1735 Guarneri del Gesù violin, known as the “Ladenburg.”

Robert McDuffie Official Website: http://www.robertmcduffie.com/

Robert McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University: http://departments.mercer.edu/mcduffie/

Lyle Lovett

Mar 8, 2015
http://lylelovett.com/

Lyle Lovett has worn many hats in his 30 plus year career - singer, songwriter, and actor, just to name a few. Since starting his performance career in 1980, the Texan has recorded thirteen albums, won four Grammy Awards, and been featured as an actor in several films & television shows. The last studio album, Release Me, was released in February 2012.

http://www.warrenhaynes.net/

From the Gov't Mule website:

Rock torchbearers Gov’t Mule are celebrating their 20th anniversary with an extensive tour and a series of dynamic live archival releases that highlight the group’s versatility and epic, fearless live performances. No two Gov’t Mule shows are alike, as the band draws on the more than 300 songs in their repertoire (and often a host of special guests) to create a unique experience each and every time. Their steadily expanding fan base knows that the Mule always has something special waiting for them. Expect the unexpected.

Daniel Shaw

From the Justice Snow’s website:

Justice Snow’s and The Woody Creek Community Center proudly announce the return of the Americana Music Series to Justice Snow’s Restaurant and Bar in downtown Aspen this February, extending into early March.

Parker Millsap

Feb 15, 2015
Daniel Shaw

At only 21 years of age, Oklahoma native Parker Millsap is quickly making a name for himself with his captivating live performances, soulful sound, and character-driven narratives. Since the release of his self-titled debut album earlier this year, he has garnered a nomination for the Americana Music Association's 2014 Emerging Artist of the Year and has received praise from The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, American Songwriter, The Boston Globe, and NPR, to name a few.

John Oates

Feb 8, 2015
Daniel Shaw

UPDATE: John Oates will be playing at the Wheeler Opera House on Friday February 13th.

You can find more more information here: http://www.wheeleroperahouse.com/events/detail/john-oates

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John Oates was destined to be a musician. Singing from the time he could talk and playing the guitar since the age of five, his calling in life was never in question.

When John first met Daryl Hall it was their mutual love for urban rhythm and blues blended with the more rural roots of Americana music that created their unique sound. Since the formation of their partnership in the early 70′s Hall & Oates have gone on to record 21 albums which have sold over 80 million units making them the most successful duo in rock history. They have scored 10 number one records, over 20 top 40 hits and have toured the world for decades. In April 2014 Hall & Oates were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

He is also the creator and executive producer for the “7908 the Aspen Songwriters Festival” that brings together the finest songwriters from around the world to perform at the Historic Wheeler Opera House in Aspen Colorado. The festival’s mission is to celebrate the art and craft of songwriting combined with a strong educational component dedicated to mentoring and developing the next generation of songwriters.

Since 1999, John has recorded five solo albums: “Phunk Shui”, “1000 Miles of Life”, “Mississippi Mile” and a live album called “The Bluesville Sessions” .His latest project is called: A GOOD ROAD TO FOLLOW which began as a series of digital singles featuring collaborations with legendary as well as new rising stars. In March of 2014 the songs were compiled into a critically acclaimed fifteen song, three disc album. The wide range of songs and productions showcases the unique musical diversity that has become the trademark of his artistic talent.

When, not touring with his solo show or with Daryl Hall, John, his wife Aimee and their son Tanner divide their time between Nashville Tennessee and their rescue ranch in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, along with dogs, Emus, Peacocks, Llamas and Alpacas. In his free time he enjoys driving his tractor, riding his mountain bike, hiking the backcountry and telemark skiing.

John will be performing Sunday evening August 10th at the Aspen District Theater with Emmylou Harris & Shawn Colvin as a fundraiser for the Aspen Animal Shelter.

David Ritz

Feb 1, 2015

From David Ritz’s website:

As a professional writer for the past 40 years, my main focus has been the collaborative autobiography. I've written thirty-six such books and am currently working with Willie Nelson on his life story.

I've written three independent biographies of which Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin is the most recent.

As a novelist, my books include Search for Happiness, Sanctified Blues, The Man Who Brought the Dodgers Back to Brooklyn and Blue Notes Under a Green Felt Hat.

As a lyricist, my songs include "Sexual Healing," co-written with Marvin Gaye. In addition, I've collaborated on songs with Janet Jackson, Smokey Robinson and Narada Michael Walden.

My articles have appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Essence, People, US, Art Connoisseur and TV Guide.

As an essayist, I've written some seventy sets of liner notes for albums and discs, ranging from Sammy Davis, Jr. to Donny Hathaway to Michael Jackson.

I've been honored with a Grammy (Best Liner Notes) and, on four occasions, the Ralph Gleason Music Book Award (for collaborations with BB King, Etta James, the Neville Brothers and producer Jerry Wexler). I received the 2013 ASCAP Timothy White Award for outstanding musical biography for When I Left Home, the story of Buddy Guy.

I live in Los Angeles with Roberta, my wife of 47 years.

More about David Ritz: http://www.ritzwrites.com/home.html

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