It has been over 20 years since The Mother Hips released their debut album Back to the Grotto, which begs the question: What were you listening to in 1992?
I was a sophomore in high school back then and can’t recall if I had dial-up internet yet or not. If I did, I know that services like Rhapsody, Pandora, MOG, and Spotify weren’t born. Music blogs didn’t exist. Music was spoon fed to the masses through radio, MTV and Rolling Stone magazine. I wasn’t old enough to attend shows, but I remember seeing the movie Singles in ’92 and feeling like that lifestyle was magical. Who were these bands in Seattle? And who were these people attending the shows? Did they really let you into clubs looking like that? Like librarians and business professionals with nary a tattoo or piercing to be found?
But I was too young to attend most shows and living in Hood River, Oregon, too far to attend shows in Portland without breaking curfew. So in the early 90′s, I was listening to Nirvana, Pearl Jam, The Black Crowes, Soul Asylum, Blind Melon, etc. Thankfully, due to movie soundtracks and an older brother, I also discovered Uncle Tupelo.
So who were the people listening to The Mother Hips when their debut was released? It wasn’t on the radio, in a movie, in Rolling Stone, or sent via direct mail. I’m pretty sure you couldn’t find it in Columbia House’s mail-order music club on their page of stamps, so how did anyone hear about The Mother Hips? I discovered the band and the album, Back To The Grotto, years later in a record store and fell in love. For someone in college surrounded by jam band music, The Mother Hips’ music on Back to the Grotto scratched an itch for me. They jammed, but not for 18 minutes without any vocals. Their songwriting was incredible. They had two stellar guitarists in Tim Bluhm and Greg Loiacono. They included a country/bluegrass tune called “Two Young Queens.” They had “Hey Emilie.” Enough said.
I became a huge Hips fan in solitude. It actually wasn’t until meeting Woody in Chicago that I found a kindred spirit in music taste who was also a fan of this underrated band. That’s what made our live session with the Mother Hips and their appearance at our second SXSW party so special. I even met Tim Bluhm in his San Francisco studio once and had to try to play it cool. His then fiance, Nikki, and Jackie Greene were also there, but I didn’t give a shit. I was hanging with Tim Bluhm and he gave me a Sierra Nevada. I almost asked him to autograph my boobs.
So now, years later, The Mother Hips are celebrating this debut album. The band has made a living under the radar in the music business by winning over fans, one show at a time. Those shows have earned them one of the most passionate and loyal fan bases in music. If you don’t own it yet, The Mother Hips are giving away Back to the Grotto for free (below) for one week and will be playing it in its entirety at The Independent in their hometown of San Francisco on June 15th.