Tim Bluhm has earned a reputation as the quintessential California musician. Born and raised in the Golden State, as the singer/guitarist and primary songwriter of rock band The Mother Hips, Bluhm has spent the last two decades performing, writing, collaborating on, and producing music.
California is a constant source of inspiration for Bluhm, and like the wildly diverse state, his influences are sprawling, beautiful and multifarious. Bluhm’s music, as an acclaimed solo artist as well as with the Hips, his duo project Skinny Singers with Jackie Greene, fronting The Rhythm Devils (featuring The Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann), Ball-Point Birds (duo with Hips co-founder Greg Loiacono), and in his wife’s band Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers, is a timeless mix of classic rock, Americana, California country, folk, psychedelic blues, and power-pop. Though varied and ambitious, Bluhm never sounds disjointed, his work always tied together by impeccable songwriting.
Bluhm grew up listening to eight-track tapes of Leon Russell, Jim Croce, Anne Murray, and The Beach Boys. He got his first taste of singing in the church choir and it was Neil Young’s Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere that inspired him to pick up a guitar. Captivated at an early age, Bluhm has always been connected to music’s spiritual capacity. “The transformative power of music is really the best part” he says, “and it’s why so many of us are obsessed with music.”
Although The Mother Hips were courted by major labels and signed to Rick Rubin’s American Recordings while still in college, they’ve yet to receive the riches of rock stardom. Instead, Tim Bluhm settled into a prolific, slow-burning career adored by many yet virtually unknown in the mainstream. Along the way Bluhm has shared the stage with such luminaries as Johnny Cash, Wilco, The Black Crowes, Widespread Panic, Lucinda Williams, M. Ward, Cracker, John Hiatt, and Phil Lesh to name a few.
While The Mother Hips were constantly touring up and down California’s coast, Bluhm became infatuated with surfing. In 1997 he purchased a Toyota pick-up with a camper shell and began drifting from town to town, spending his days in the water and crashing in the truck. Standing at 6 feet 5 inches the Toyota wasn’t the most comfortable accommodations and was soon replaced by a legendary van that Bluhm called home until 2003.
2006 offered Bluhm, Bay Area musician Jackie Greene, and engineer Dave Simon-Baker the opportunity to open Mission Bells Studio where Bluhm has produced albums for the Hips, Jackie Greene, Hot Buttered Rum, Dave Brogan, Little Wings, and the studio has hosted Phil Lesh, Los Lobos, Rogue Wave, Jonathan Richman, Josh Ritter, and ALO.
In 2005 Bluhm teamed up with San Diego-based singer/songwriter/guitarist Steve Poltz and combined his love of the outdoors with his passion for music with The High Sierra Singer/Songwriter Workshop. The unique four day backcountry experience offers attendees the opportunity to write songs and learn from two of California’s most renowned songwriters in one of the country’s most amazing locations.
Bluhm and his bandmates further blurred the lines between Mother Nature and music by launching The Mother Hips Family Hipnic in 2009. A two day festival set in gorgeous Big Sur, CA hosted by the Hips, “it’s everything I like about music festivals” says Bluhm; “great acts, pristine surroundings and no crowds.” 2010 was an even greater success and all signs point to an annual outing where fans will continue to flock.