stephen bluhm

Stephen Bluhm at Upstairs at Abyssinia

Philly expatriate vocalist and songwriter Stephen Bluhm returns home for a show at Upstairs at Abyssinia to celebrate his newest album, “Out of the Nowhere. Into the Here”.

The greatest pleasure of the Monday Night Club – a weekly, live performance party of musicians, artists, thespians, and comedians that moved from Bar Noir and the Trocadero’s Balcony to National Mechanics within its 15-year-long life cycle in the 2000s – was making the acquaintance of so many new, provocative creators. One of its most innovative performing artists was Stephen Bluhm – a young man, often dressed in corduroy suits with polished shoes, whose vocals were elastic and whose overall demeanor was that of a Morrissey who was actually likable and nice.

The music he played, pretty much all by himself, was synth-generated electro-pop with a Sondheim-ian kick. With no exaggeration, Stephen Bluhm was truly a one-of-a-kind artist whose presence at the Monday Night Club always made the evening better. Or, at the very least, more tastefully presentable.

stephen bluhm

“Since I grew up in rural Northeastern Pennsylvania, moving to Philadelphia was thrilling,” said Bluhm. “I worked at Tower Records on South Street where I had shopped when I was younger. I had to travel 3 hours to find CDs I couldn’t find in the country. I cut my teeth as a songwriter/performer, first at open mics at Temple University, then on the stage at the old Khyber Pass Pub, at Greenline Cafes in West Philly, and plenty more. Philadelphia gave me my first sense of belonging.”

That sense of belonging is what drove Temple U grad Bluhm to record his newest single and film his fresh video for “Wissahickon,” and return to the scene of the crime with a June 1 show at Upstairs at Abyssinia in celebration of his newest album, Out of the Nowhere. Into the Here – a record curiously offered as both a vocal version and a companion all-instrumental set. 

“Wissahickon’ is a love song to the creek and, by extension, to Philadelphia and my experience living here,” said Bluhm. “In the song, the character is working at a day job when an important meeting is canceled, so the character daydreams going back to the faraway Wissahickon. But it’s not the creek of today; it’s the Wissahickon of the late 1600s inhabited by religious doomsday cults who, in real life, did inhabit the creek at that time. The character gets baptized in the creek, absorbs the beauty of the surroundings, falls asleep, then stumbles awake and aboard a gasping SEPTA bus back to reality, but what reality? A music video beautifully shot by Talon Hare gives the viewer a sense of the creek’s beauty and history.”

Speaking of history, Stephen Bluhm beats Philly listeners to the punch with recollections of his musical past. “Philadelphians remember my synth pop performances, but this album is very different,” said the singer of his new full-length recording, Out of the Nowhere. Into the Here.

“I put away the electric instruments, drums, samples, and effects. I wanted it to sound as much as possible, like orchestral players playing live together. These songs just felt like they wanted that sense of space and air. Although there isn’t a tightly woven theme, I wanted to write a mature-sounding collection of spiritual prayers, lullabies, and love songs. Songs that evoke the strangeness of creativity and dreaming, making the album another world you step into for a while.”

stephen bluhm

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