It’s always a challenge for artists to expand their musical directions. Very few pull it off successfully, especially on their first foray into a new genre. Most of the musicians who add to their repertoire risk alienating their loyal fans and are unwilling to do it.
When it’s done correctly, though, everyone wins. Long-time fans of the artist will see the growth and appreciate the additional possibilities. Hardcore fans of the old genre might be skeptical at first, but they soon see it as a chance for new fans to go back and listen to the original music.
Everybody got what they wanted when Samantha Fish played the Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill last Wednesday. The earlier rain and declining temperatures kept the crowd lower than expected, but it was still a good turnout as Samantha continued her Chills And Fever Tour in support of her new album of the same name. Going from strictly blues on her previous albums to a rock and R&B sound added an ethereal quality that the audience loved.
The changes became obvious as the new band walked onstage and immediately began with a cover of The Ronettes “He Did It” off the new record. Sam’s voice was full and pure for the rock and roll song and the band was in perfect tone, as they were all night.
The title track was next and it showcased a chanteuse side of the singer that no one knew existed. She easily pulled it off as her vocal range was a highlight of the song. The new keys and horn section added immensely to the song and showed the band has the chops needed to play the new music.
A rough-edged rock song with a harder beat set the tone for “Wild Heart,” which prompted the 2012 Blues Music Best New Artist to kick off her high heels even though the weather was cool. She plays barefoot so often, though, her true fans were surprised to see her wearing heels to begin with.
A speed riff highlighted “You Can’t Go” and she moved so easily onstage while still delivering rapid-fire strokes. Kenny Tudrick pounded a strong drum intro to “Hello Stranger.” The laid-back tune featured tightly-worded lyrics that all the fans identified with immediately.
Everyone perked up for “Little Baby” with it’s almost rockabilly beat. The tight-knit band easily handled a difficult chord change to turn it into a fast-paced jam with Samantha’s solo as the spotlight.
Travis Blotsky on sax led off “Either Way I Lose,” an Amy Winehouse-sounding song that fit Sam’s voice beautifully. She used her vocals as another instrument to end the song with a ecstatic round of applause from the audience.
The upbeat “Somebody’s Always Trying”had the crowd dancing. They crowded the stage as Ms. Fish got on her knees to play a little “chicken scratch” before a chord change and a jam featuring a long-string sound ended the beautiful song. The venue exploded with well-earned applause.
Fish expertly showcased the acoustic guitar on “Jim Lee Blues Pt. 1.” Phil Breen on keys and Mark Levron on trumpet accompanied the Delta Blues song that paid tribute to the past and thrilled her loyal fans.
A marching beat preceded “Blame It On The Moon.” Sam’s slide guitar work combined with the perfect timing of Chris Alexander on bass created an electric atmosphere in the venue. Fish and Tudrick joined together for a faster beat on “Runaway.” It turned into a flat-out boogie with Chris having fun playing and loving every minute of it. The horn section built up a crescendo to end the song.
The lyric-driven “You’ll Never Change” was another torchlight song that mesmerized the audience with the singer’s ever-expanding vocals. The thrill of the music kept going as they played “Road Runner” with its intermittent guitar solos inside a band jam session that filled the open areas with dancers. They kept dancing as keyboards punctuated “Voodoo Workin’” with its extended play.
“Nearer To You” blended into “Crow Jane” and its passion captivated the lively crowd. She upped the energy level as a cold front suddenly hit the outdoor stage and didn’t waver one bit at the cooler temps. The rest of the band fed off her electrifying stage presence for the set-ending song.
They stayed onstage for the encore instead of taking a quick break and the fans lit up for “Go Home.” She passionately played the lower fret and the emotion in her voice combined with the thundering drum beat to thrill the audience. She then grabbed her cigar-box guitar for her closing song, “Bitch On The Run.” A tech wearing a deer-head mask held up a megaphone for Samantha to sing into and she didn’t miss a beat. All of this while playing slide guitar and using her strong vocals as another instrument to finish the outstanding show.
Samantha’s voice keeps getting better as she expands her body of work. Adding driving rock and Detroit R&B , while still maintaining her blues background will undoubtedly gain her a new legion of fans. New songs were well received and her older music was as enthralling as ever. Only 28 years old and currently promoting her 4th album, she will grow exponentially as an artist. Avoid the rush and jump on the bandwagon now!
Catch The Samantha Fish Band on tour through the end of September.