Indie psychedelic rockers, The Mother Hips return to Grass Valley Saturday for a much-anticipated dance concert at The Center for the Arts. The band recorded much of its “Do It on the Strings: Live in California” acoustic downloadable recording live in Grass Valley Nov. 13, 2010.
Hailed by critics for their “rootsy mix of ’70s rock and power pop” (pitchfork.com) and for their unflinching ability to “sing it sweet and play it dirty” (The New Yorker), The Mother Hips are true indie music pioneers.
“I think our songs often times don’t have a real structure, not a real defined chorus. They’re creative and sometimes a little free-form, and the words are usually kind of obtuse or peculiar … Our formative years were spent listening to all of this West Coast ’60s and ’70s kind of music. I think that still comes through quite a bit, although we definitely have our own sound,” said front-man Tim Bluhm.
Over the years, the band has worked with and played alongside Wilco, Johnny Cash, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir.
The Mother Hips owe most of their success to their large and loyal fan base. Early releases, such as “Part-Timer Goes Full,” “Green Hills of Earth” and “Red Tandy,” have nearly become cult classics among indie music aficionados.
For 20 years, co-founders Tim Bluhm (vocals/guitar) and Greg Loiacono (guitar/vocals) have led The Hips. They met bassist Isaac Parsons and drummer Mike Wofchuck in the dorms of Chico State in the early 1990s.
“Greg and I are the only two original members, but the current lineup has been the same for close to 10 years,” said Bluhm.
In 1991, The Mother Hips moved up from bar band status through a series of regional tours and built a sizable fan base in California.
Loiacono and Bluhm’s harmonies and country-tinged melodies pay homage to California’s musical past, from Merle Haggard to the Beach Boys and Neil Young. The band’s 1992 album “Back to the Grotto” caught the ear of Rick Rubin of American Recordings. The label released the 1995 recording, “Part-Timer Goes Full,” featuring the national radio hit song “Hey Emilie.”
Now based in San Francisco with his wife, musician Nicki Bluhm, songwriter Tim Bluhm says his band is often influenced by California landscapes.
“I think that you write about the places that captivate your imagination and your mind … that’s called inspiration, you know? Definitely I’m inspired, as anyone is, inspired by my surroundings,” he said.
Drummer John Hofer replaced Wofchuck for the 1998 country-rock “Later Days.” Three years later, the band released the more pop-oriented “Green Hills of Earth.”
In 2006, Bluhm, Loiacono, Hofer and new bassist Paul Hoaglin resumed playing music and released the “Red Tandy” EP on Camera Records followed by “Kiss the Crystal Flake” in 2007.
The band will be joined at Saturday’s show by The Easy Leaves. The Easy Leaves, songwriters Kevin Carducci and Sage Fifield, formed north of the Golden Gate in 2008 immersed in a diverse set of flailing rockers, gospel skeptics and country outlaws. Their initial intent was to establish an old-time string band. However, this did not happen (at all).
In love with just too many different musics, artists as disparate as Bob Wills and Smokey Robinson slinking into their songwriting, Carducci and Fifield gave up their banjo habits cold turkey. The Easy Leaves’ sound was born — a modern acoustic sound, its roots kept close to the chest while tirelessly sprawling out in new directions that stretch the borders of the Americana genre in exciting ways.
The evening kicks off at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 for members, $22 for non-members and are available at The Center for the Arts Box Office or at BriarPatch Co-op.