The Mother Hips celebrate debut album. Giving away Back to the Grotto [Free Album]

by oz on May 23, 2012

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.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

The Colonel May 23, 2012 at 12:23 pm


Bob May 23, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Great post. I bought Back to the Grotto from one of their friends selling it out of a rucksack while they just SLAYED the 2nd stage at the HORDE tour in Denver in 1994. I was immediately hooked.

Lost track of them over the years until I found the band’s website. I’ve been an obsessive fan ever since–and still have only seen them twice (once in 1994 and 1995, I believe, both in Denver).

Having left the West in 1995, I have only followed the Hips from afar, but one of these days I’m going to fly out to California just for a dose of their California Soul in person.


Matt Chalmers May 23, 2012 at 11:35 pm

Got turned on to Back to the Grotto from a California friend of mine while we were both in college in Fort Collins, Colorado. Loved it – Figure 11 transported me then and still does. Probably seen the Hips 20 or so times, from the Part – Timer and Shootout shows in the mid-90’s, to Later Days, living in Santa Barbara, where that album was my morning soundtrack down the coastline to Carpenteria. Their music has definitely served as the soundtrack to my 20’s and still now into my 40’s. Can’t wait to see them at the Independent.

oz May 24, 2012 at 12:31 am

Thanks for the stories, Bob and Matt. Bob, wish I could join you in SF for that show. Let us know how it goes.

Woody May 24, 2012 at 9:54 am

I picked up Part-Timer goes full on a whim at Tower Records. I listened to one song, saw that they were on the same label as The Crowes and that was good enough for me. Fortuitously, I had a trip planned out to SF to see a buddy and he informed me that on night one we were cruising over to San Rafael to catch a band called The Mother Hips. One of the best times I can remember as they killed it. Picked up my copy of The Grotto night and listened on my discman (no Ipods back then) on the flight home. Truly one of the best and most underrated American bands around.

Chico May 24, 2012 at 6:45 pm

….”What were you listening to in 1992?”
Da Hips! I was seeing them in backyards, basements, and bars all over town. From what I remember…. It was cool and breezy.

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