We caught up with the recent YouTube sensation, and star of the viral video series “Van Sessions”, earlier this week to chat about life, love, music and all things that make this life worth LIVIN!

Her story is one movies are made of. Get the screenplay ready, because this talent is ready for the big time. Hailing from San Francisco, Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers are combining a soulful rock sound with hints of a more nostalgic time lost in the days of vinyl.

Nicki Bluhm began her career in a somewhat “it was meant to be” kind of way with a little bit of love story mixed in the tale.

It was 2005, as she explains to us, when she was at a New Year’s Eve party and her now husband, Tim Bluhm (from the popular west coast band The Mother Hips), heard her sing and was instantly blown away by her powerful voice. With Tim’s encouragement, Nicki began to test the waters as a musician by taking up some local open mic nights and the rest is history. Thus was the start of her professional music career and dating relationship with Tim.

Flash forward, and her journey brings us here to 2012. She’s happily married to Tim and well on her way to a successful career as a budding musician. Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers are fresh off the heels of their 2nd album, Driftwood. (Which we highly recommend here) They are  touring at the moment while working on recording the tracks to their 3rd album, possibley due out later this year or early 2013.

While traveling the lonely highways, the band had no idea that something they found as a source of entertainment, on those long road trips in between gigs, would captivate so many on YouTube. What are we talking about you ask? “The Van Sessions!" “Van Sessions” is the bands video series, where they take songs they love and record them singing on the road.

LifeSushi: We are huge fans of belting it out in the car (aka Motormouthing). You can check out our Motormouth section for some musicaly challenged automotive singing sessions. How did Van Sessions first come about?

Nicki: My bass player had this funny idea to do the song from the Steve Martin movie “The Jerk” –"Tonight You Belong To Me" on the Eukelee and record it. We had so much fun doing it we just started recording other songs we loved to pass the time during the day as we were driving.

LifeSushi: We instantly fell in love with their rendition of Hall & Oats “I Can’t Go For That” and the fabulous duet of Kenny Rogers & Dolly Partons’ “Islands in the Stream”. Last we checked they had 988,000 views on YouTube for their “Hall & Oats” cover of “I Can’t Go For That” in just 3 weeks time!

Here are some of our other favorites from the Van Sessions:

Madonna "Material Girl"


Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton "Islands In the Stream"

To see more, click here and Subscribe to their YouTube Channel to follow along.

Now, on to our interview with  Nicki Bluhm, one inspiring lady who is following her passion for music and love of life.

LifeSushi: How did you discover your love of music?

Nicki Bluhm: At 17 I got my first guitar. I used to sing in the shower and it wasn’t until I put the chords to the songs I was singing that I truly discovered how magical music made me feel.

LifeSushi: What are some of the things you draw daily inspiration from:

Nicki Bluhm: My husband and musician, Tim Bluhm. I wouldn’t be here doing this if it wasn’t for his encoragment and inspiration. Tim is always telling me “Be Brave” and that’s what keeps me from those terrifying moments of thinking “what am I doing?” I am a big believer in the Law of Attraction and that fear only attracts fear. So I try to keep that out of my mind and just keep moving forward.

I also find daily inspiration by being outdoors. I love simple things like taking a walk on the beach, being with nature, or watching my cats play. Animals are so calming and I find can ease anxiety as well.

LifeSushi: What were you doing before you got into music as a profession?

Nicki Bluhm: I was actually teaching school kids and I also worked with horses. I kind of think of myself as a late bloomer. It wasn’t until I was about 29 going on 30 when I started to feel like a girl transitioning into a woman and thinking “what am I going to do with my life?” That’s about the same time I made the transition to follow my passion for music.

LifeSushi: If you had any advice for women wanting to follow their passion but afraid to get out of their comfort zone, what advice would you give them?

Nicki Bluhm: It is scary no doubt, but if you don’t try you’ll never know. It’s a different experience for everyone.

LifeSushi: Who are you listening to now?

Nicki Bluhm: Tim & I listen to a lot of vinyl. We have a great old vinyl record collection. I’m inspired by the artists like Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris, Patsy Klein, Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, & Bonnie Raitt. I really like a lot of the old country sounds. I sing in another group from time to time called Brokedown in Bakersfield that draws a lot of that old Bakersfield country sound.

LifeSushi: What female do you look up to or find inspiring?

Nicki Bluhm: An amazing woman that I am truly inspired by daily is horse trainer, Denize Borges who owns Crystal Image Farms in Sunol, California. Growing up in Lafayette,CA, I learned everything I know about horses from Denize. She's an amazing lady that I am so grateful to have in my life. As a young girl, my mother would drop me off for the weekend at her horse farm, and I would stay Friday through Sunday working with the horses and learning from Denize.

Denize has such a great story of how by following your passion and working hard anything is possible. The horse business is an extremely expensive and hard industry to be involved in. Denize has not only built, but owns one of the most respected and successful horse training facilities in Sunol that she built from the ground up. She is such a strong female figure from which I have learned a lot and I’m forever grateful.

LifeSushi: What websites do you surf daily / weekly?

Nicki Bluhm:

Ann Sage’s blog 

Lizzie Garret’s style blog – Tomboy Style 

Julia Wheeler's Blog - The Post Social

For design, I also follow:

Sunset Magazine  - great ideas and inspiration for design.


LifeSushi: What advice do you wish you had when you were in your early 20s?

Nicki Bluhm: “Don’t worry…everything will be fine”

LifeSushi: What’s your fashion style?

Nicki Bluhm: Functional fashion. I draw from a lot of throwback vintage fashion and try to keep it comfortable for real life. I love all the amazing and beautiful fashion in the magazines but they are just not functional for my lifestyle.

I love the jewelry designs of Austin, Texas based designer Leigh Navarro, She has a great shop on S. Congress called Leighelena 

LifeSushi: LifeSushi is based in Austin, Texas so we love giving a shout out to any local gals around town. We'll check her out and tell her you said "hi!"

LifeSuhsi: At LifeSushi we are big believers in the Healthy Life Trifecta. Meaning, Healthy Mind + Healthy Body = Healthy Life

What's your favorite way to work out and keep it all in tune? Why?

Nicki Bluhm: Tim and I are big outdoors people. We love back country sking, floating the Grand Canyon. Tim also is an avid surfer.

I am actually involved in a great reatreat in Yosemite this year, September 9th-11th called Balanced Rock with my friend and program director Heather Sullivan. Balanced Rock are retreates that take you on a journey through Yosemite to invigorate the mind, body, and soul. These retreats are made up of a fabulous group of women who get together for a weekend of yoga, songwriting, swimming in Yosemite. Its amazing! You can read more about it and join us. There are only about 10 spaces but you can find out more about by visiting their site.


We feel energized just visiting with Nicki! Find out more about Nicki Bluhm and follow her as her music career unfolds by clicking here. Or follow her on Twitter & Facebook.

Your MOMENT OF ZEN, from Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers:

Jetplane – Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers (Driftwood)


If you were inspired...remember to share this article and "pay it forward." You never know who you will inspire just by simply sharing something positive. Till next time!


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