Tim Bluhm is back.
After being off the road for a year as he recovered from a life-threatening speed flying accident, Bluhm has a new solo album, the result of spirited recording sessions at Johnny Cash’s old haunt. And his band Mother Hips is about to release its first proper live album.
Bluhm and The Coffis Brothers perform at 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Alibi Ale Works – Truckee Public House. Tickets are $15. This show originally was scheduled for Dec. 7 and was postponed due to a snowstorm.
Bluhm was back in his former stomping grounds on Nov. 29, when he played the first show of the winter season at the T-Bar Social Club in June Lake. He performed solo.
“I spent most of my summers growing up working there, so when Jamie (Schectman) came in and reopened the T-Bar, that was exciting. It was nice to finally have a place where I could work and have an excuse to go there.”
Bluhm also played a solo show at the T Bar last summer. In September, he headlined at June Lake Jam Fest, which additionally featured a band he has taken under his wing, The Coffis Brothers.
Bluhm, 49, was speed flying – paragliding with skis — at 35 mph when he crashed feet first into a pile of felled trees. His ankle was snapped in half and his pelvis was crushed. Two years later, he is doing well. He can hike and bike. But he can’t telemark ski or run anymore.
“And surfing, I was never that awesome. Now I am less awesome,” he said. “The accident affected my outlook. There are a few things I don’t take for granted anymore, like walking and not being paralyzed.”
From a hospital bed, Bluhm signed with Blue Rose Music. His first album released March 29 with the label is “Sorta Surviving.” It was produced by Dave Schools, best known for playing with the band Widespread Panic.” Schools is deeply connected to the Nashville scene and arranged studio sessions at Cash Cabin, where Johnny Cash recorded.
“Like most people, I’m a huge Johnny Cash fan and to be able to spend a couple of weeks in his private recording studio with these amazing Nashville guys. It was formative,” Bluhm said. “It changed my life. Just having that experience was pretty incredible, and I’m happy with how the album came out, too.”
Speaking of incredible …
“There was one night when it was just me and Dave and the great engineer, Chuck Turner. It wasn’t that late, but it was in January, so it was dark and there was an ice storm and it was snowing and super cold outside. I was doing some singing in a darkened room and I saw this old man’s face looking at me through the piano room window. I didn’t really say anything about it at the time.
“The next day I told Chuck that I’d seen that and he said, ‘That’s Johnny Cash’s ghost. People see him every once in a while. He’s definitely here.’ It was a good feeling. It wasn’t spooky. So, who knows? I’m not going to expect anyone to believe it, but I believe it.”
Fans of The Mother Hips should have their spirits raised, as well. Bluhm revealed that the Hipnic XII in Big Sur will be May 15-17, 2020.
And the folk rock band’s live album from a 2017 show at the Great American Music Hall was released Nov. 29.
“The room just has a really good energy,” Bluhm said. “It’s exciting for our band and our supporters and when we listened to our tapes when thought, ‘Yeah, we could do something like this.’”
“I like their voices and the songs they write and they have a really good work ethic,” said about the band from Santa Cruz. They don’t’ make a big deal about it, but they put in time and they’re prepared and super talented. It’s fun to work with brothers who sing harmonies, too.”
— Tim Parsons