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Mother Hips

a golden-coast exclusive

Written by:  Steve Spindrift
Edited by:     Doug Miller

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image property of peter moller | hips-shack.com

1999 Mother Hips- The Year in Review

In 1999, the California rock band known as the Mother Hips came out with a new song called Singing Seems to Ease Me. Its sentiment and theme -- getting by in the face of uncertainty and self-doubt -- isn't new to recent Hips songs. Its music, however, is a departure from their 1998 sound and album, Later Days.

Singing Seems to Ease Me, with its crunching guitars and confident in-your-face feel, ignited the year for the band -- a year in which they played all over the American West and produced a load of new material. The proliferation of new Hips music and never-better live performances said, "No record deal yet? No problem! We'll just put out a new bunch of songs for our fans to devour!"

While the lyrics point often point to this self-doubt and uncertainty (Consider, "Real live touching makes me nervous -- I'll touch you in my mind instead. Singing and dreaming -- singing seems to ease me."), the music and delivery is anything but.

1999 also saw a rebirth of the band's leadersí musical off-shoot -- the Tim (Bluhm) and Greg (Loiacono) duo. And if 100 plus shows and new Hips songs weren't enough, leader Bluhm released his first solo album, Land and Sea Chanteys, which received golden, if limited, reviews.

With the exception of Hawaii, Nevada and New Mexico, Mother Hips played throughout the western United States, hitting nine states in all. The band played as close to their home base as San Francisco and as far away as Texas and Wyoming. The venues were as diverse as the states they played in -- a huge pier in Pismo Beach, California; Mill Valley's tiny, legendary Sweetwater; a side stage at the Allman Brothers concerts in the Bay Area, and at the South by Southwest Music Convention in Austin, Texas, to name a few.

While 1999 wasn't the year for mass national acceptance of the Mother Hips, their fan base grew deeper and wider.

Bluhm mused, "I feel like sometimes our fans, instead of increasing in number, they increase in intensity, which is a very strange thing. It definitely surprises me -- it's very nice. It's great that people feel so strongly about it." And feel strongly about it they do. Some fans logged as many as 40-plus shows in '99. The less zealous still could boast up to a dozen or more shows in one year.

There is something about the Hips' music that reaches a chord with the fans. Like any good performer-audience relationship, both are aware of the importance of the other. At the end of '99, the San Francisco Chronicle held a "Best of the Bay" reader's poll. The poll asked readers to vote on the best music groups from the Bay Area ever. The Hips came in at number 23 out of 100 -- impressive in that they were the highest-ranked independent band. The band was voted No. 1 in a similar poll on the Sacramento-based web site at www.sacramentomusic.com. (See: http://www.sacramentomusic.com/sms99.htm)

Songs like Seems to Ease Me, Del Mar Station and Sarah Bellum Yes once again illuminate a band with a wellspring of talent -- talent for writing and performing top notch songs, and a a knack for connecting with its audience.

The quartet opened the year at a mellow, special auditorium show at Palo Alto's Cubberley Community Theatre and closed 1999 with a sold-out rock show at San Francisco's Great American Music Hall. With a full slate of shows the first few months of 2000 that will take the band from Hollywood to Salt Lake City, the year 2000 looks ripe for Hips fans near and far. As one recent reviewer pointed out, "They can hook you with their sound, and it can become one of those sounds you canít get enough of. The more you play it, the more you want to hear it the next day."

And with the Mother Hips, this addiction is decidedly a good thing.

© Golden-Coast Productions, 1999