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27 Live: Nicki Bluhm / Sammy Miller and The Congregation

Doors at 7pm
Sammy Miller and The Congregation 7:30pm
Nicki Bluhm 9pm

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Nicki Bluhm

Compass Records is excited to announce the release of renowned singer/songwriter Nicki Bluhm's new album, TO RISE YOU GOTTA FALL out June 1. To celebrate the announcement, Rolling Stone premiered the title track yesterday, hailing the song as "a blast of Memphis soul." TO RISE YOU GOTTA FALL as recorded in Memphis at the legendary Sam Phillips Recording studio and features two co-writes with Ryan Adams and a Dan Penn cover. For these live band analog sessions, Bluhm brought in producer Matt Ross-Spang (Margo Price, Jason Isbell), and the studio band included Will Sexton (guitar), Ross-Spang (guitars), Ken Coomer (drums and percussion), Al Gamble(Hammond B3), Rick Steff (piano) and Dave Smith (bass), with Reba Russell and Susan Marshall (background singers), Sam Shoup (string arrangements) and various special guests. 

"It was the very first song we tracked," Bluhm told Rolling Stone, "and Ken just started playing the groove and the band slowly started to drift in. Ken is such a present musician, and he's listening to the words and reading the room and the vibe...There's a line in the song that says, 'I went looking for some perspective, so I knocked on my mama's door,' and he just hit the drum -- the rim -- like a knock, which brought a playfulness and lightness to the song. I love Will's guitar playing, too. It's so understated, but he makes himself known. It's like the old saying goes: 'The young bull charges down the hill, but the old bull takes his time.' These musicians were tasteful; they're all old bulls full of experience and class. Having a string section arranged by Sam Shoup was the icing on the cake. Memphis had melted into my California soul." 

After six years with her band the Gramblers, and recent high-profile collaborations (Phil Lesh, Infamous Stringdusters, Ryan Adams), Bluhm wrote the life-chronicling songs for TO RISE YOU GOTTA FALLover a two-year period, during which she got divorced and moved to Nashville, TN. The album is a chronicle of her state of mind following these deep and fundamental life changes. 

"These songs are quite personal," Bluhm says. "They are the conversations I never got to have, the words I never had the chance to say, and the catharsis I wouldn't have survived without." 

"Nashville was inspiring because of all the songwriting going on here," Bluhm says. "When I would come to Nashville on writing trips it was just percolating... it was intoxicating. So I very hastily, in a matter of days, decided to move. I just had this gut feeling." 

Ross-Spang happened to be mixing a record in Nashville at the time and they met up and hit it off immediately. 

"I really needed someone who was going to take the reins and have a vision for the album and he really did," Bluhm says of meeting Ross-Spang. "My ex-husband had been my musical director, co-writer, and producer on all my records except one and I was looking for someone to step into that leadership roll, which Matt did very gracefully. I was looking for a clean slate; the only baggage I wanted to bring into the studio were the words to the songs I was singing. I wanted it to be a fresh experience; I didn't want to even have history with anyone in the room that would pull me into old habits or ways of thinking. So we agreed we'd record in Memphis." 

Once settled in Sam Phillips Recording, the sessions revolved around tracking live with an ace band assembled by Ross-Spang.

"We really just recorded live and we didn't do that many takes of each song," Bluhm says. "The final versions we ended up with were all one take. It was really refreshing to go analog. It minimized over thinking and second guessing, forced us all to stay in the moment and play from the heart. Sam Shoup did all the string arrangements and when he walked in the room I thought he was a housepainter; he was the most understated, unlikely suspect. That was the thing about Memphis that was cool... not a lot of egos, just people making music for music's sake. Throughout the session there was a lot of listening and trusting. Matt really spends me curating his sessions and who he decides to bring in; he knows how to keep the vibe right. What you are hearing is, as Jerry Phillips would say, 'not perfection but captured moments in time.' 

Bluhm will be touring this year and beyond in support of TO RISE YOU GOTTA FALL. The confirmed tour dates are below with more to be announced soon. 

IG: @nickibluhm
TW: @nickibluhm
FB:  https://www.facebook.com/nickibluhmandthegramblers/

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Sammy Miller and The Congregation

Sammy Miller and The Congregation are on a mission to put the generosity back into jazz and bring art back to the people.

We play joyful jazz -- music that feels good. It is a style that entertains, enriches, but most of all uplifts.

A native of Los Angeles, Grammy®-nominated drummer Sammy Miller has become known for his unique maturity and relentless focus on making music that feels good as a drummer, singer and bandleader. Upon completing his Master's at The Juilliard School, Sammy formed his ensemble, The Congregation. As a band, they are focused on sharing the power of community through their music -- joyful jazz.

Ars Nova selected The Congregation for the 'Makers Lab' in 2017 to produce their original theater jazz show, "Great Awakening." While independently the band members have performed and recorded with notable artists including Wynton Marsalis, Iron and Wine, and Jason Mraz at venues including the White House, Lincoln Center and the Hollywood Bowl, they have opted to stick together to spread joy throughout the world.

IG: @smcongregation
TW: @smcongregation
FB: https://www.facebook.com/smcongregation/

Earlier Event: August 1
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Later Event: October 3
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