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Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers 

When: Thu., Aug. 16, 8 p.m. 2012
Price: $15

Of all the artists pushing Seventies nostalgia -- the shaggy long hair, the jangly instrumentation, the plaintive piano, and the matte photographs -- Nicki Bluhm makes the form seem entirely earnest. Bluhm isn't a retro artist, but her country ballads recall an earlier era, with their piano fills and lushly layered background vocals. Her voice is a high, bending alto, always pleasant, if a little light for lyrics about personal tragedy -- her song "Women's Prison" sounds more like a made-up yarn than a first-person testimonial. But many of Bluhm's lines are quaintly archaic and quite wonderful -- she sings about being "pie-eyed stoned" on "Barbary Blues," for example. Not to mention her compositions are airtight, abetted by husband/producer/occasional backup singer Tim Bluhm (of The Mother Hips) and a crackerjack three-piece rhythm section. The Gamblers feature guitarist Dave Mulligan, bassist Steve Adams, and drummer Mike Curry. They'll perform at The New Parish (579 18th St., Oakland) on Thursday, Aug. 16. 8 p.m., $15. TheNewParish.com

— Rachel Swan

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