Tennessee Transplant Bluhm, Holding Her Own
By Cory Weaver
Stepping out on your own (leaving her band, The Gramblers), moving across country, getting divorced and leaving the producer of all but one of your albums all at once, would most likely be advised against. But, Nikki Bluhm did it and she’s doing more than holding her own.
Co-writing two songs and touring with Ryan Adams, along with appearances in Rolling Stone magazine, Bluhm landed at The Pageant last Sunday night opening for the powerhouse trio, The Wood Brothers. Taking the stage by her lonesome, equipped with nothing but a shimmering sequined long-sleeved gold dress, matching cowboy boots and an acoustic guitar, she belted out an A Capella ballad that froze the audience and commanded their attention—something that an opening act doesn’t always get.
A Nashville transplant for a little over a year now, she’s a certifiable solo country songstress landing somewhere between Carrie Underwood and Margo Price. The crowd at The Pageant was entranced with Bluhm. The 1,500-plus capacity was so quiet at times, you could here the top of a beer can being popped open at the bar.
Following her tour de force A Capella intro, she moved onto heartfelt, impassioned tunes from her new album, To Rise You Gotta Fall like “Battle Chained Rose” and “You Stopped Loving Me”—the kind of songs you write after a break-up or in Bluhm’s case, a divorce.
Continuing her opening set were more great tracks from her new album including “Something Really Mean,” a melancholy, retrospective on walking down the aisle on her wedding day and then, dealing with the wake of what’s left after a divorce.
The powerful ballad was followed by an acoustic version of an old classic, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles’, “I Second that Emotion”—a pleasant surprise, as it was a rendition you normally don’t hear.
Keeping the upbeat vibe going, Bluhm ended the set with a politically charged protest song she wrote in 2017, “Remember Love Wins.” The tune was born in response to Trump’s travel ban in February 2017. It was a perfect way to end a set, whether you’re opening the show or headlining.
Ending with “Remember Love Wins” was a mic drop and made sure that the St. Louis crowd would remember the name Nicki Bluhm.