Chico welcomes The Mother Hips’ homecoming, pending new album release


Andrew Quist

The Mother Hips. Photo contributed by Hi-Res Images and Blue Rose.

The Mother Hips will return this weekend to celebrate 30 years of rock in the city that started their musical journey. As their new album approaches, fans have much to honor, in memory of the band’s early days. 

Performing the Chico Women’s Club’s first show since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the band returns from their last year’s experience that inspired the new LP, “Glowing Lantern.”

The show starts at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 3, following their noon show on Saturday, Oct. 2 at The Commons Social Emporium, where they will celebrate the bar’s third anniversary.

With businesses hit hard by the pandemic, the Chico Women’s Club revives itself in COVID-conscious practice. Even though this event will be outdoors, both CWC and the band request that guests wear masks.

As they celebrate their 30th anniversary, the band prepares to release “Glowing Lantern” on Dec. 3. The album was born from the realization of live music’s importance to people during COVID-19.

“It was eye-opening to see how badly people wanted to experience music when all of that was snatched away from us,” said the band’s co-founder, guitarist and vocalist Tim Bluhm. 

Bluhm and other original band members met and started performing while attending Chico State. Their 20th anniversary four-disc collection, “Days of Sun and Grass,” includes demos and interviews from their dorm rooms, as mentioned by band co-founder, guitarist and vocalist Greg Loiacono in an interview on the Bringin’ It Backwards podcast. Student-run KCSC radio played those recordings in 1990. 

Quickly growing in local fame, the band performed sold-out shows in Chico, as Loiacono said on Bringin’ It Backwards. In the ’90s, comedian DNA, owner of DNA’s Comedy Club in Santa Cruz, organized the band’s gazebo concerts in the downtown park. 

“It felt like the whole town came out,” Bluhm said.

The band soon joined record label American Recordings and toured the country, opening for major acts like The Black Crowes and Johnny Cash.

“It was intoxicating,” Bluhm said.

Although conceived in the ’90s, the band pulls classic rock influences from the ʼ60s and ʼ70s. Bluhm said that older country music influenced their style later in their career. In albums like “Shootout” and “Pacific Dust,” you can hear that country twang through layers of nostalgic chord progressions and distorted boogie rhythms. 

Bluhm now produces records for other artists. He learned piano through church and classical music while practicing guitar. According to Bluhm, the band’s name is a reference to a former love interest who inspired a song of the same name, serving as their muse. 

Chris Robinson, founder of The Black Crowes, persuaded record producer and American Recordings founder Rick Rubin to sign them to the label. 

The Mother Hips dropped out of Chico State to tour the country. Still today, Bluhm realizes the emergence of those opportunities were a rare fortune.

“It’s just what had to happen at that time to pursue the opportunities that were coming our way,” Bluhm said.

Bluhm spoke about how pursuing a musical career differs from the monotony that comes with some jobs related to non-arts degrees. 

“There’s more to it than just the desire to do it,” he said. “You have to be open to that uncertainty.” 

While an unpredictable environment may be certain, the career outlook for music students carries some promise. Almost half of 792 music performance students nationwide reported working in their degree’s field after graduation, according to an Indiana University study of graduates from 1990 to 2009. However, our current pandemic may shape students’ new outlook.

Photo by Shae Pastrana

Fortunately, the reopening of venues and theatres return some of the support to musicians that’s been restricted since last year.

“The community of Chico has always been so supportive of me, my band and my music,” Bluhm said. 

Chico Women’s Club looks forward to welcoming them back.

“We’re cautiously optimistic,” said Rick Anderson, a concert organizer, CWC member and owner of Chico Concerts. “I want to make sure people remember them [CWC], so they can book shows and events.” 

CWC plans for more events. Oct. 15 is Poor Man’s Whiskey presents The Poor Man’s Whiskey Family, an event with multiple music acts. Dec. 8 is An Evening with Jackie Greene, Northern California-born pianist and 2013 lead guitarist for The Black Crowes. Greene will be visiting CWC for the first time since 2014.

All tickets will be sold through Eventbrite.

Shae Pastrana can be reached at [email protected] and @Pineyfolk on Twitter.