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Interviews: Samantha Fish Swimming In The Blues

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.

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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.

B411: It was interesting, you opened with your version of “Rollin’ & Tumblin’” classic straight up Blues. You also did “Goin’ Down Slow”, big time classic Blues numbers.

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
©Blues411.com 2012
photos: Blues411

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.



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Photo Gallery/Performance Review: Joe Louis Walker with Steve Grills

With St. Patrick’s Day barely erased from my mind, it was time to switch gears and catch some outstanding Blues in Rochester, NY. Yeh, Rochester the one time home to Son House, current home of Joe Beard, and the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Fest, hopefully one day will embrace the Blues heritage it possesses.

Opening for Joe Louis was local Rochester Bluesman, Mr. Steve Grills. With his band The Roadmasters they feature old school Blues that harkens back to the days when sound, not power were the rulers of the guitar blues.  Straight-up shuffles to slow burning desirous pleas, from Freddie King and Earl Hooker influenced riffs with strong vocals Steve Grills is the real deal and Rochester is blessed to have him here. There is not a band here who would have been a better choice to open for Joe Louis Walker.

Joe Louis Walker marries rock and blues together and produces a beautiful child of substance that is at one older than the years yet as new as each dawn. A flawless guitar master, Mr. Walker can give you what you want with out you knowing that you want it. His is equally adept at the T-Bone Walker jump blues, to rocking out with a Stones inspired “Black Girls”, and all points in between.

His version of “I Don’t Sing For Free” brought gospel feeling to what has become the anthem for musicians everywhere. Setting up the song with vocal harmonies from Bertha Blades and other band members  they took the song to church and made believers of us all. Ms. Blades is a stunning vocalist, powerful, energized and engaging she provides the counter point to Mr. Walker’s somewhat laid back style, plus they work so well off each others energy that it is contagious.

Mr. Walker was both professional, friendly and gracious as he allowed Mr. Blades to front the band on two numbers which showcased her  ability to sing and deliver a song. Mr. walker did the same for his guitar partner Mr. Murali Coryell. Murali is the son of one of the most influential guitar players ever, Mr. Larry Coryell. Murali brought us tot he house of funk with his “A Minor Funk” from his latest release “Sugar Lips” and then switched gears with a slow deeply emotional “I Could’ve of Had You”. Thank you Joe for allowing us to see these fine artists in their own right, it is a tribute to your excellence that they play alongside of you.

It was the band’s last night of the tour in support of Joe ‘s new release “Hellfire” and they were relaxed and in a fine state of mind. Bertha’s family came to the show and it was great to see them support her as well as the rest of the band. Joe took the time to meet and greet them after the show giving hugs all around, love was in the air and we were thrilled to be part of it all.

Joe Louis Walker with Steve Grills

Rochester had a great week of blues, Joe Louis Walker and band with local blues cat Steve Grills opening up for him.

Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
©Blues411.com 2012
photos: Leslie K. Joseph

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The 411 in 15: Laurie Morvan Skinny Chick with Big Game !

B411: Was it/is it difficult for a lady who plays guitar to be taken seriously or to get work?
LM: At this point it is hard for everyone, it’s not just hard for woman. I don’t want it to sound like its women complaining – it isn’t – the music is so hard. Now woman do have a different flavor of trouble. When I started playing, this was in the late 80′s, there were people who treated you as a novelty, instead of as an artist, and nobody wants that. Yeah there have been times that I was frustrated – things that I couldn’t get, shows that I couldn’t get on.
There was this one club that I could just never get in, and I knew I belonged there. So I had one of my male friends try to book me in – ya know man to man. He came back and said to me that he never realized how hard it was for a female guitar player to get booked. He said it was so eye-opening for him, the guy told him women shouldn’t be playing – so I never got booked there till he sold it and BOOM I got booked.
Inappropriate things have been said to me, or you are not being taken seriously, but ya know what, as I said everyone has a different flavor of hardship that they go thru – it’s all blah, blah, blah – but once you do get on stage and you play your ass off, then who’s gonna argue with you after that?
Sometimes the doors don’t get opened for you and sometimes it still happens. There have been festivals where I have been told ‘we already booked our woman’ singular. I have been told that within the last couple of years. My lord there are like twelve male acts but there can only be one woman. I kinda shake my head, it’s like the woman are a genre ! That can be a little weird but all that being said there may also be a guy who can’t get on because they might have a guy who already plays a purple guitar – see what I’m saying, it’s all different flavors of hardship we all get them thrown at us in some form, but yes it is different in some cases for women.

B411: Yeh I understand, but I am not a women and I (and possibly other men) don’t know what it’s like. The very first time I saw Bonnie Raitt (in like 1978) since there was no other female that I could relate her playing to I said she played it like a man. I think that the lack of women guitar players created that thought in my mind – I had no where else to go with it, no prior experience.
LM: Yeah people say that to me ‘you play guitar like a guy’ and I say no I play like a girl – this is exactly how a woman plays a guitar. I am a woman and I play guitar so this is it !

B411: Candye Kane told me her response to someone saying that Laura Chavez played like a man, it was something to the effect that she’s playing it with her hands not her female parts, hands are non-gender specific !
LM: Great answer. You try to stay low key about that. I have been playing along time now. The Blues world might be just discovering me in the last four or five years but I’ve been pounding in the clubs. I used to play Rock & Roll and found my way to the Blues. I wish I could have been exposed to the Blues when I was eighteen, but I didn’t know anyone who was listening to it. I just wasn’t exposed to it, and that’s what it takes, you need to have access to it to know you love it.
That’s what the Blues was like to me, when I first heard it I was like ‘ahh what is this beautiful music that I have just never been exposed to’, and then I went after it.

B411: So you come from a Rock background ?
LM: I was in a power trio, it was the late 80′s early 90′s. Stuff like Heart, Pat Benatar, Jimi Hendrix, we did Eric Clapton, and it starts to point in that direction, then Stevie Ray Vaughn – who is this Stevie guy ? It’s such a wonderful musical palette all the forms of it. But what gets my heart pumping is the Rock & Roll influenced Blues, I just love it. My desert island music is Stevie Ray Vaughn. He was my gateway to the Blues so I will always love him and his style of Blues. It’s kinda like your first love which you never will forget.

B411: Any other influences that you found when you went back to the Blues?
LM: Bonnie Raitt, of course. But again, I came through Pop Music to discover it. So you listen to her pop tunes and then to some of her older stuff and realize how cool they were and want to learn more about all of it. I think one of the greatest songwriters in the whole wide world ever was Freddie King. To me the breadth of his songwriting and the influence it still has is just incredible.
I consider myself a songwriter first, and you know how much I like to play guitar, but to me music is all about the song. Without a real song the guitar playing would have no meaning. The guitar is there to serve the song and help energize the people. But I think the song will transcend and that’s whats gonna last. Sure Freddie King was a great guitar player, but what we remember are his songs. That’s what stirs peoples hearts, I’ve always admired that about him.

B411: He was the complete package for sure. It pays to be able to play and sing – to get that spirit level to a good balance, as I said the whole package.
LM: Yes, I sort of liken it to track and field where you can have the worlds greatest 100 yard sprinter, the worlds best shot putter, the world’s best high jumper and no one else can do these things better. But then you have the decathlete, people who can do many things and do it all well. They never will be the best at any one thing and that’s the way I look at musicians like me. You always find a better singer than me, or guitar player or business manager but I have to do ten things in my band and have to do them all well. So when you are going for that total package your brain has to multitask therefore you can’t specialize. It all kind of comes around to where in track and field you have the decathlete in the Blues you have the entertainer. You become the complete entertainer, can you talk to the audience? Can you relate to them, do you have stories behind your songs…..but there are only 24 hours a day, I am interested in a lot of things so being an entertainer is what I see myself as globally. I want people to have a good time, I want people to walk away from my show saying it was a good way to spend some time, they felt the fellowship with the band and their music. So all the other parts feed the main goal as being a great entertainer.

Visit Laurie on her web site:  http://www.lauriemorvan.com/

Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
©Blues411.com 2011
photos: Leslie K. Joseph


Filed under Blues, Blues411, Bluescruise, Entertainment, Interviews, Music, Rock & Roll, The 411 in 15 minutes