Tim Bluhm is back. Coming off the 2018 release of Chorus with his longtime band, The Mother Hips, Bluhm is set to release his first solo album in more than a decade. Sorta Surving drops March 29 on Blue Rose Music, and Bluhm promises that more music will shortly follow.
Produced by Dave Schools, who is most known as bassist for Widespread Panic, and recorded at The Cash Cabin Studio in Hendersonville, Tenn., Bluhm says that he wanted this album to go in a different direction. “I’ve been getting more and more into old country music,” Bluhm says. “So I wanted this to sound like a classic country record.” Bluhm had some veteran Nashville players record with him and included covers such as an exquisite remake of Johnny Cash’s “I Still Miss Someone” and the Merle Haggard 1985 classic “Kern River.” The current single, “Where I Parked My Mind,” is a Bluhm original that feels like it could be playing on a jukebox at the Bakersfield Pizza Hut in 1978.
The title track for the record speaks from the perspective of having had some setbacks but making it through.
Hey, hey the gang’s all here.
We’re sorta survivin’ another year.
Pour out a pull for the dead and dear
And keep their spirits alive.
We’re sorta survivin’.
For Bluhm, sorta surviving explains his life for a while. Heading into 2015, he was still performing regularly with The Mother Hips, had a number of solo records, had produced albums for others, and was music director and band member for Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers. But a horrific accident while speedflying (think paragliding on crack) shredded his body, shattered his hip, and nearly ripped his foot from his leg. He was bedridden for most of a year while undergoing more than a dozen surgeries. Meanwhile, he and wife Nicki parted ways both personally and professionally. To paraphrase the children’s book, it was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year.
But despite, or maybe because of, these events, Bluhm entered a phase of prolific songwriting.
The Mother Hips released an outstanding album, Chorus, in 2018, and his solo effort Sorta Surving will be released this month. On top of that, Bluhm says he has two more albums recorded and is working on a third. Moving into the spring of 2019 Bluhm says that after being reminded just how fragile we all are, he’s more grateful than ever just to be alive.
As for his injuries, Bluhm says that he seems pretty normal from the outside but still struggles at times. “I guess no one fully recovers from life,” Bluhm says with a sly chuckle. He’s clearly ready to look forward instead of back.
Unquestionably there is a lot to look forward to. In addition to the two completed albums and one in the works, Bluhm still balances a career as part of The Mother Hips. Fellow founding member Greg Loiacono is on the same label and has the same booking agent as Bluhm, which helps to make scheduling a bit easier. After Bluhm plays a handful of dates to kick off his solo album, he will play a few April dates with The Mother Hips before resuming his solo tour.
“I’ve been a professional musician for 28 years,” Bluhm says. “I’m proud that Greg (Loiacono) and I are still partners. And I’m grateful to have been able to make a career of music, to focus on it full-time rather than trying to earn money doing something else.
“I just want to keep writing songs,” Bluhm continues, “just keep the output steady and stay healthy.”
(Editor’s Note: The author of this piece expresses his humble opinion that The Mother Hips’ 2001 album Green Hills of Earth is one of the top 10 records of that decade. Take a listen!)