Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers at the Visulite Theatre tonight (3/22/13)



Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers

San Francisco-based Nicki Bluhm sings rocking country soul that echoes back to Laurel Canyon, the 1970's mecca of L.A. singer-songwriters. Bluhm's band, The Gramblers, recreates the precision, chops and soulfulness of the '70s L.A. session aces who inspire them. Nowhere is this more apparent than on The Gramblers' van sessions, which have gone viral on YouTube. Driving from gig to gig, Bluhm and her crew execute relaxed, confident covers of iconic songs. Their jaunty take on Hall & Oates' "I Can't Go For That" is both dead-on and more fun than the original, replacing 1980s studio sheen with the high spirits of a crack Americana outfit. The Gramblers, which include Nicki's husband Tim Bluhm of earthy jam-banders The Mother Hips, are both tight and organic, but the focus is on Bluhm, where it should be. Drawing on Southern California soft rock luminaries like Linda Ronstadt and Rita Coolidge, Bluhm adds the sass and grit of rockers like Chrissie Hynde. Whether belting soulfully or adopting a country twang, Bluhm is forceful without being forced, a natural performer who easily owns the stage. A bit of a throwback, Bluhm, like her influences, is a class act. With You Me & Apollo. $13-$15. March 22, 8:30 p.m. Visulite Theatre, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. 704-358-9200.

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