Tim Bluhm-vocals, guitar; Greg Loiacono-guitar, vocals; Isaac Parsons-bass; Mike Wofchuck-drums
Before they became Bay Area nightclub staples and national hopefuls, The Mother Hips was packing them into the Northern California college bars in the early '90s. This 1994 show from Magnolia's in Santa Rosa is a steamy example of what Tim Bluhm and Co. could do in what you might call their early prime.
Call it a trip back in time and a dream set for the early Hips who'd only released one album, Back to the Grotto, and were well on their way to a second, Part Timer Goes Full. The Hendrixian "Stoned Up the Road," would show up on the latter and listening to it now, you could say the Mother Hips pre-dated the Black Keys' noveau blues and boogie sound by a decade. But there was more to The Mother Hips than grooves and howling catch phrases. "Mona Lisa and the Last Supper," from that same album is boogie-touched, complex pop and the raw slide groove and heavy drums of "Tehachepi Bloodline" conjures Jack and Meg White at times. "Two Young Queens" is a country stomper, a kind of Meat Puppets meets the Grateful Dead number, from 1993's effort, Back to the Grotto which also sported the really, really iconoclastic song "The Figure 11." Daring to take on the words of Black Elk (not a Native you'd want to mess with) it lands somewhere in the zone of Camper Van Beethoven at its most out-there. "Chronicle Man" is a great example of the Mother Hips habit of cutting and pasting a couple of songs together to form one over-the-top whole: Yowza. Showing some hair (and some roots) they tangle with "Up on Cripple Creek" by the Band and arguably lose, but the Hips have original jams to spare and covers don't really figure into their all-night sets.
This is precisely the kind of live show for which the band became known, ruling the Norcal clubs around their state university in Chico. But the Mother Hips had also caught the attention of the music biz: Rick Rubin signed them and they were mentored by Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes. However, ill timing and fate found the Mother Hips failing to connect. Sadly, they were lost in the crowd.
Perhaps the time is right for rediscovery as there is something oddly, weirdly, compelling and excellent about Mother Hips right now, which of course their staunchest fans would be quick to tell you. For the uninitiated, check it out: this just might be the best thing to come from Chico since its notorious various recipes and ways to use Velveeta, but more importantly, Mother Hips are one of the '90s' best kept secrets. So drink up the amazing and interstellar overdriven live beast that was the Mother Hips--we rarely boast but we have a feeling you'll thank us for the tip.