Samantha Fish article by Ruth O’Brien // Photo by Kevin King
Samantha Fish has been making waves in the blues rock scene for the past decade, and is now bringing her live show to Australia for the first time. With four studio albums under her belt and a reputation for powerhouse live performances, Fish is quickly becoming one of the most respected and sought-after artists in the genre.
Fish has toured extensively throughout the US and Europe, and has played some of the biggest festivals and venues in the blues and rock scene. She has shared the stage with a who’s who of blues and rock legends, including Buddy Guy, Ruthie Foster, Joe Bonamassa, and Eric Gales.
I recently spoke with Fish via video about her upcoming tour down under.
“I’ve always wanted to do a real comprehensive tour of Australia. This is like a dream come true – getting to come out there and do these shows.”
Samantha Fish – the early years
Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Fish grew up surrounded by music. Her father was a musician and introduced her to the blues at a young age. She began playing guitar at the age of 12 and was soon performing at local clubs and festivals.
Eventually, Fish moved to New Orleans, to be in the city from which many of her musical idols came. It was there that she began to develop her own sound, blending traditional blues with rock ’n’ roll, with a touch of southern soul.
“When I relocated to New Orleans, I really didn’t know very many musicians,” she says. “I had dipped my toes in the scene. But it’s different. Growing up in a place, you literally know everyone; I knew exactly who to call for this and that.
“But moving to New Orleans, it was a completely different ballgame.”
As a result, Fish co-opted some help.
“My manager helped me put together the last few bands.
“Ron, my bass player, I started working with in 2020. We started doing some trio work together.
“And then Matt, my keyboard player, was a recommendation through a friend.
“And then my manager found Sarah through a tour manager in Nashville. I saw a video of hers and was like, ‘Oh yeah, she’s great!’ and the four of us just gelled together.”
Fish in for compliments
Fish’s most recent album, Faster, was released in 2021 and was produced by Martin Kierszenbaum, who’s worked with the likes of Lady Gaga and Sting, no less. Fish gave me some great insights into her writing process and what it was like working with this acclaimed producer.
“I made Faster before I met any of the people [in the band],” she reveals. “I’ve had several different iterations of the band over the years.
“When COVID hit, there was nowhere to play, so we all went our separate ways. That’s when I started writing, and I met with Martin Kierszenbaum, who has done some incredible work in the pop world.
“It was exciting for me, because I felt like he could really take my songwriting to that next level.”
Always fascinated to hear how other singers work with producers (being a vocalist myself), I was intrigued to hear how Fish wrote some of the songs solo and for others.
It seems Martin would come in with an idea and they’d flesh it out together.
“That’s how that record came about,” she says. “I went to this amazing studio in L.A. in December of 2020 and cut this album with Josh Freese, Diego Navaira, and Martin Kierszenbaum.”
Collabs and blues dabs
Fish has most recently finished recording a new collaborative project with Jesse Dayton – a “country badass” out of Texas.
“We wrote a lot of the material, together” she says. “It’s a little different than my solo projects; I don’t normally do a lot of duets. Jon Spencer produced it, and it’s going to be coming out really soon, so I’m super excited about it.”
Expanding on this in a recent interview Fish did with OhioMusicX.com, she says:
“Working with Jon Spencer definitely coloured this album in a way that is vital to how it turned our. He’s got a great sense of production and songwriting. He was really, really key in the whole sound of this upcoming record. I think it turned out better than I could have ever imagined.”
Having someone like Fish come through Canberra is a huge treat, providing an opportunity for blues musos and fans alike to have a taste of the dynamic version of the genre that Fish brings to the stage. She’s been described as a “force of nature” in her performances and has become known for her powerful guitar playing and emotive singing.
Samantha Fish will be performing at The Basement on Sunday, 19 February. Tickets are $61.20, available via Oztix.