A great turn out across Western NY State for this up and coming Blues lady, Ms. Fish is riding a wave that started with her appearance on the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise, then Girls With Guitars, and now reaching further with her release ‘Runaway’ being nominated for a Blues Music Award in the Best New Artist Debut.
We enjoyed her and her band, Go Go Ray (drums) & Paul Greenlease (bass) performing to a packed house at the famous Dinosaur BBQ in Rochester, NY (where the music is always free) and spent a little bit of time chatting her up so we can all get to know more about her.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
B411: So by the turn out tonight – which was really great – I would think that the ‘Girls with Guitars’ tour helped with getting you and your music out there for people. You did appear here with them last year for the Jazz festival.
Samantha Fish: I definitely think it helped a lot. We got exposure to markets we have not been to before. I hadn’t been to these areas in the East before, I am still a young artist and before Girls With Guitars I was doing mostly regional work, and with Girls we got to Canada, Europe and it opened a lot of doors for me. I also led me to Piedmont Talent, it has been very helpful.
B411: When I first saw you on the cruise you were jamming in with Trampled Under Foot, or with the Girls tour, and now finally with your own band. My how you have grown !
SF: The cruise was a jam thing, I jammed with everyone. Mike Zito helped me get to a lot of the jams, Pro-Am’s, Pros, Am’s – I just jammed the cruise away. I jammed with Tab Benoit, so everyday I hit all the jams. So with Girls With Guitars it still wasn’t my music – it was more of a collaboration, it was great, a fun project. Now you get to see me do my own thing. I am more comfortable now. It’s been kinda cool, I get to play with my own band and my own music. So I think one does get more comfortable after playing a lot and getting used to being up there.
B411: Yes, but there is comfortable and then there is the engaging part of it. You just won the crowd over with your openness and repartee with them. I saw it, it’s was very professional and personal. Plus they loved your set.
It was great to see some of the younger folks there, and I overheard them referring to you as sort of Stevie Ray Vaughn styled blues-rock, that’s great because you drew them in and they stayed the majority of the set.
SF: Yeh all the young kids go thru that, they hear a guitar and they go “Stevie Ray Vaughn”. That’s funny he was one of the first people I picked up on when I was getting into the Blues. I was a kid, and he bridged that gap to the main stream. I’m twenty three now so he was a major person when I was picking up the guitar.
B411: That’s so important to bring people your age and younger into the Blues, otherwise we are gonna crawl off into a corner and die.
SF: That is so true, and I am so aware of that. A few years ago I met Shirley King, B.B. King’s daughter, and she wanted me to come up to the Chicago Blues Fest to meet some people and jam. Oh, I jammed I front of Koko Taylor – Shirley was so nice to me, but she told me that we need to get young people into the Blues because they bring younger demographics into it. Kids relate to kids, it’s about being able to relate to the music, so it does open the door for kids to get into the Blues, and then they can learn more about it’s history. I mean after I started playing I fell on love with Charley Patton and Skip James, Freddy King – but Stevie Ray opened the door. We need someone to bridge the gap for young people.
B411: Yes, but there is the fact that they were here tonight, not in a sterile environment like an iPod…
SF: Live music is so important – you can’t get the same feeling. I mean there are some recordings that I go wow over, but it happens the most when you see it in concert. For me the last time was when I was on the Bluescruise and Tab Benoit was singing “These Arms of Mine”, and the wind was blowing and he had a horn section with Jimmy Thackery – man there never was a better moment than that one. That’s what live music will do to you. It kills you!
B411: Speaking of Tab, you mentioned him as one of your influences on guitar, tell me more.
SF: I’d definitely say so. A lot of the guys that influenced me the most, I did take a lot from older recordings, like BB & Freddie King and the Stones and Tom Petty were big also. But when I started to going to see live shows, it was guys like Ronnie Baker Brooks. Mike Zito, Tommy Castro, Trampled Under Foot and Tab really deeply influenced me. I almost had to leave the shows because I wanted so to just go home and play guitar. I think when you see it right up front is when it moves you the most.
It’s all those things that inspired me but live music hits me the hardest.
B411: How long have you been playing?
SF: Since I was fifteen. I really didn’t start playing out live till I was nineteen, twenty. I know it doesn’t sound like a long time but for me it’s a giant chunk of my life. I feel like I have learned a lot.
SF: I wasn’t sure if I should open with a cover, but that one “Rollin & Tumblin’” has always has been one of my hardest hitting songs. It’s a guitar driven song, and I can sing my butt off so it helps set things up. Now “Goin’ Down Slow” is a bastardized version of a Howling Wolf song, re-done by Bobby Blue Band, re-done by Albert Castiglia and bastardized by me. Castiglia’s version of that – he played it in Kansas City and I was right down in front and I felt I just had to learn that song. It’s funny because now I look at my set list and I’m going “holy crap I should write some songs’. I mean I also never thought that I would be playing at the same festivals as these folks, it’s so great.
B411: So ‘Runaway’ is more of your own music than covers.
SF: Yes, a lot of original songs. Actually Mike Zito produced that album, he did a great job. We even co-write a song “When Push Comes To Shove” we’ve yet to play it together, but we are doing a lot of festivals together so we’re gonna have to re-learn it. Mostly we will be doing mid-west gigs, I am opening for Royal Southern Brotherhood in a few places. Yeh, I’m gonna force Zito to come up and play that song with me, get ready Mike!
B411: The line between doing covers and originals is tough to call – I mean you just did ‘Wild Horses‘ by The Stones, and it was waay good. So sometimes they become part of your experience and as an artist you need to do them, with your take on it.
SF: I love that song, and have had some many people want us to put it on a record, but i am writing so many ballads these days I’m not sure I can do that one too.
B411: It can just be a live treat from you. On “Runaway” you did an excellent version of “Louisiana Rain” it just kicked the original’s ass. Sorry Tom!
SF: Thank you. I love Tom Petty, my dad listened to Tom Petty, he was my parents favorite artist. I love his songwriting, him and Tom Waits, they are so imaginative and creative storytellers. I hadn’t heard that song, I was in the studio with Mike Zito in November and we were discussing what we would put on the album, and we decided on Tom Petty and he said ‘Louisiana Rain‘ – I had never heard it. So I wound up listening to it in my room and played it about thirty times, and I just fell in love with the song. I wondered what was wrong with me since I hadn’t heard the song – I thought of myself as a fan.
B411: Was it off of “Damn The Torpedoes”, I don’t recall?
SF: Yeh, it was, I have that album and probably never listened to the song, it musta been the mandolin intro that I thought would never end. See what I’ve missed.
B411: On a personal note if I may, you and Kris Schnebelen (Trampled Under Foot) have been together a few years now. With both of you performing and touring artists how easy (hah hah) or difficult is it for you guys to keep it together?
SF: We’ve been together for over three years now, a pretty long time for me in life years. It wasn’t like this in the beginning of the relationship because neither of us was touring a lot. They had just won the IBC’s so they were getting their feet into it. It can be like ships passing in the night, but what’s cool about us is that we understand what each is doing. He is the most supportive person I have, the love and support will pull us through it. We feel lucky for the time we have together. Who knows we might wind up hating each other if we spend all our time together (we both laugh aloud). Nah, it makes our time thankful for the time we have together, and we appreciate that we both have something to do that we love to do for a living.
B411: Some very wise words from one so young, I understand perfectly as Leslie and I have been together going on thirty-three years and also appreciate the time away and agree with you on the time spent together. Thanks so much and see you in Memphis hopefully holding a nice new statue in your hands.
Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
For a photo gal1ery and quick review of her performance in Rochester, visit http://blues411.com/?p=3988 also contains photos from good pal to Blues411 Martin Goettsch.