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      Samantha Fish in Ithaca

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      June 19, 2019

      Wednesday   8:00 PM

      702 Willow Avenue
      Ithaca, New York 14850

      Samantha Fish

      with Aaron Rizzo
      You should always get outside of the box, Samantha Fish says while discussing her boundary-breaking new album Belle of the West. Challenging yourself is how you grow.After launching her recording career in 2009, Samantha Fish quickly established herself as a rising star in the contemporary blues world. Since then, the charismatic young singer-guitarist-songwriter has earned a reputation as a rising guitar hero and powerful live performer, while releasing a series of acclaimed albums that have shown her restless creative spirit consistently taking her in new and exciting musical directions.The New York Times called Fish an impressive blues guitarist who sings with sweet power and one of the genres most promising young talents. Her hometown paper The Kansas City Star noted, Samantha Fish has kicked down the door of the patriarchal blues club and observed that the young artist displays more imagination and creativity than some blues veterans exhibit over the course of their careers.Having already made it clear that shes more interested in following her heart than she is in repeating past triumphs, Samantha Fish delivers some of her most compelling music to date with Belle of the West, her fifth studio album. The deeply soulful, personally charged 11-song set showcases Fishs sublime acoustic guitar skills as well as her rootsy, emotionally resonant songwriting.Such memorable new originals as American Dream, Blood in the Water, Need You More and Dont Say You Love Me demonstrate the artists knack for organic Americana songcraft, while a trio of cover tunesR.L. Burnsides Poor Black Mattie, Lillie Maes Nearing Home and the Jimbo Mathus-penned title trackattest to her substantial interpretive skills as well as her varied musical interests.To me, this is a natural progression, Fish notes. Its a storytelling record by a girl who grew up in the Midwest. Its very personal. I really focused on the songwriting and vocals, the melodies and emotion, and on bringing another dimension to what I do. I wasnt interested in shredding on guitar, although we ended up with a few heavier tracks. I love Mississippi blues; theres something very soulful and very real about that style of music, so this was a chance to immerse myself in that.Fish recorded Belle of the West in the relaxed, rural creative atmosphere of the legendary Zebra Ranch Studios in the North Hills of Mississippi with producer Luther Dickinson (of North Mississippi Allstars fame), with whom she worked previously on her 2015 album Wild Heart. The studio team included some of the regions most iconoclastic musicians, including Dickinson, solo artist and Jack White associate Lillie Mae (whose distinctive vocals are featured on Nearing Home), much-traveled juke-joint blues artist Lightnin Malcolm (whose featured on Poor Black Mattie), Squirrel Nut Zippers founder Jimbo Mathus, upright bassist and beloved solo artist Amy LaVere, Tikyra Jackson, Trina Raimey and Shard Thomas, granddaughter of the legendary Southern bluesman Otha Turner.I wanted to do this acoustic-electric record, and tap into the style and swagger of Mississippi, Fish states, adding, Any time you dive into another place, another vibe and a new group of people, youre challenging yourself to grow musically. I felt very at home a Zebra Ranch, and Ive known Luther and Malcolm for years, so it was a very comfortable situation. When youre making a record like this, it has to feel natural if you want people to respond to it.Belle of the West follows on the heels of Fishs March 2017 release Chills & Fever, which achieved top 10 status in the Billboard Blues charts. Here she expanded her stylistic arsenal to take on a set of lesser-known vintage R&B gems, with help from members of garage-soul stalwarts the Detroit Cobras. Having these two very different records come out back to back this year has been really liberating, says Samantha.The creative drive that fuels Belle of the West and Chills & Fever has been a crucial element of Samantha Fishs approach from the beginning. Growing up in a musical family in Kansas City, Missouri, she became obsessed with music early life, taking up drums before switching to guitar at the age of 15. By the time she was 20, she had formed her own trio and self-released her first album. She soon caught the ear of the renowned blues label Ruf Records, which in 2011 released Girls with Guitars, which teamed her with fellow axewomen Cassie Taylor and Dani Wilde. The same year saw Ruf release Fishs solo studio debut Runaway. The album was named Best Artist Debut at the 2012 Blues Music Awards in Memphis.Black Wind Howlin (2013) and Wild Heart (2015) followed, winning considerable critical acclaim and further establishing Fish as a prominent presence in the blues community. Wild Heart reached the top slot on Billboards blues chart. She also collaborated with blues-rock veterans Jimmy Hall and Reese Wynans on the 2013 project The Healers. The same year, she jammed onstage with blues icon Buddy Guy, and guested on Devon Allmans album Turquoise.Fish continues to maintain the same hardworking, prolific approach thats carried her this far. I think Ive always had that, she says. Music is my life, so what other choice do I have but to go out and make music? We do tour quite a bit, and maybe its kind of crazy to put out two dramatically different albums in one year. But I like to work hard. This is who I am and this is what I do, and when Im writing and recording and touring is when I feel the most like myself. And now we have a moment where people are paying attention, so I have to make the most of it. I feel like I have a lot to say right now, so why not say it?As far as Samantha Fish is concerned, her musical future is an open road. Im never gonna be a traditional blues artist, because thats not who I am, she asserts. But its all the blues for me. When Muddy Waters and Howlin Wolf came out, what they were doing didnt sound like anything that had been done in blues before. Youve gotta keep that kind of fire and spirit. Im never gonna do Muddy Waters better than Muddy Waters, so I have to be who I am and find my best voice.

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