Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion Artist Spotlight: Nashville’s Nicki Bluhm

For San Francisco native Nicki Bluhm, authenticity and vulnerability are non-negotiables when it comes to writing music. A result of much self-reflection and vulnerability, her latest album, Avondale Drive, narrates her journey to “finding [her] own inner compass.” 

With the first track on the album titled, “Learn to Love Myself”, Bluhm sets the tone for the rest of the album, and seems to be her most honest work yet. A raw reflection of her own flaws, the song’s funky 60s vibe is accompanied by the artist’s revelation about needing to give herself the love for which she has been searching. 

Amidst the self-reflection are nods to personal experiences that Bluhm has endured while paving her own way in the music industry, where she acts as her own strength. She notes that “the songs I tend to write are typically what become the mantras I need to hear most.” 

Having released two solo albums and founding her own band, Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers, Bluhm began her music career in a fairly explosive way. With the development of a YouTube series titled “Van Sessions”, the group made a name for themselves by covering select songs. First posted in March 2012, the band’s Hall and Oates cover of “I Can’t Go For That” has reached 4 million views.

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After an international tour and two albums with the band, Bluhm decided to pursue a solo career once again, and moved to Nashville in 2017. Her 2018 solo album, To Rise You Gotta Fall, is a blend of her California roots with Tennessee influence. 

On tour through mid-December, Bluhm’s next appearance will occur on one of many stages at the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion Festival. This will be Bluhm’s first appearance at the festival, and she noted, “I moved to Tennessee five years ago, and being closer to so many of these musical traditions has felt really special. I am honored to play this fest and soak up the history.”

She went on to say, “The site looks amazing and there are so many bands I want to see, so will definitely be taking advantage of that.”

Celebrating the history of Bristol, TN/VA, the festival honors their title of The Birthplace of Country Music. With a diverse lineup of artists from a multitude of roots, the festival will prove to be an amalgamation of Appalachian sound in tribute to the 1927 Bristol Sessions, which saw the careers of two notable country music legends emerge: Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family.

Almost a century later, the city’s rich music history is still celebrated annually. The festival is getting underway this weekend, September 9-11, boasting more than 100 artists across 17 stages.  

Bluhm will continue her run of shows this year with Todd Snider, Duane Betts, and Little Feat, and will be playing the Piedmont Stage Friday September 9th at 7:30 – 8:30 and the Near Moore Stage Saturday 9 – 10.

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