The traffic in LA in the last couple of years seems to have made all previous traffic seem like a walk in the park. Or smooth sailing down an empty highway.

But this year, I don’t know why, it feels like it’s imploded. Traffic is everywhere at every hour. And on Saturday night, I felt like I was previewing a glimpse what the city would be like in a major crisis (and a particularly unattractive glimpse it was) as they closed part of the 405 (again) for paving, and then decided that since they had all those trucks and orange signs and all that tar, why not be thrifty and also pave one of the main boulevards people could be using to get around the freeway shutdown. On. A Saturday. Night.

I don’t care where you live. If you drive or ride shotgun. Traffic can make all of us ragey or it can force us (force us) to take a Zen approach and be content with being someone going nowhere.

And now I’d like to imagine that one day, sitting in traffic on the 405 or the 101 or the stuck in the canyons (cue The Californians…), I might look over and see a group of people in a van, playing instruments and singing. Like these guys.

My cousin sent me a YouTube of a song to listen to today. Not that one. Or the one after this. Totally unrelated. But after the song she sent, I noticed a picture in the righthand sidebar – this postage stamp-sized picture of what looked like musicians cramped into a car singing. And it was. The “Van Sessions.”

The band is called Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers, “a rock/country/soul band from San Francisco with a busy touring schedule. Between gigs they pass the time by playing cover songs in their van, recording them with an iPhone and posting them online for fun. They do, indeed, wear their seatbelts.”

And I kept clicking and listening to songs from my childhood – Madonna, Whitney Houston, George Michael – they even cover Dirty Dancing territory, guys. Now I want to imagine that even though they’re carpooling it in the Bay Area and know a traffic very different from our own, that perhaps we in LA can learn a lesson or two about what can be done with all of this gridlock.

Being someone going nowhere – with a kazoo.

Time to start a band. Or just listen to one. (One that just happens to be starting their California Album Tour this week – only connect, right?)


6 thoughts on “Multitasking: Van Sessions by Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers

    1. alexandra Post author

      I’ve been listening to them while I work all day. It’s a mix of amazing musicians and the songs of my childhood wrapped up in the perfect package. AND KAZOOS!


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