Samantha Fish to Play Three Shows Regionally

Samantha Fish shares the stage with blues legend Buddy Guy on Tuesday, June 13th, at the Pines Theater in Northampton and two days later at The Ulster Performing Arts Center in Kingston. Somewhat ironically, she’s calling her tour with new musical partner Jesse Dayton the “Death Wish Tour,” and Buddy is calling his swan song foray his “farewell Tour” less than a month before he celebrates his 88th birthday. 

In my opinion, for Buddy Guy to label this, his farewell tour is about as believable as when The Who claimed to be calling it quits years before they cut their hair. Even for Buddy to hang up his guitar at this advanced age is unlikely. I toured with him in the early ’90s when I was writing his biography. At that point, he was in his 50s but had the energy of a teenager: up at 6 in the morning, driving hundreds of miles to the next gig, and tearing up the stage at clubs until the wee hours night after night after night. 

Photo by Claude Sawyer

Samantha is doing only a few select dates with Buddy. Two days after her Kingston show, she plays the Syracuse Blues Festival, another stop on an exhausting months-long tour of the world that includes two nights at the Eric Clapton Crossroads Guitar Festival in Los Angeles in September. 

Jesse Dayton gets equal billing on their new album Death Wish Blues. This singer/songwriter/guitarist has produced soundtrack recordings for Rob Zombie horrors movies and played the role of Captain Clegg, the psychobilly bandleader in Zombie’s film Halloween 2, but his dance card includes a long list of recording sessions with Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Willie Nelson. 

You can hear all of these influences upfront and personal on Death Wish Blues, their new release on Rounder, the roots music label, hardly known for such excursions into the outer limits of contemporary exploration. The album is tough in every sense of the word with as many punk and hard rock influences as it is about blues. To make things even more arcane, the 12 cuts were produced by Jon Spencer whose credits include R. L. Burnside, Pussy Galore, Boss Hog, Heavy Trash, and The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. 

“I like to keep things fresh,” Samantha tells me. “I like to take pretty sharp turns with every album, you know? I’ve been doing that pretty much since Wild Heart (2015), putting together these different teams and not really changing the sound, but with Jesse, I wanted to put together a kind of duets project, but with a very specific aesthetic and style and something with a really rough edge.  

“A lot of times when you get duets together, there’s a softness to it, and though we do delve into that occasionally, we’ve got a pretty raw rock and roll sound and approach, and that’s what I really wanted to do, (And I) figured out who I wanted to add to that with. 

“I’ve known Jesse probably since I was a teenager. I came up in Kansas City, and I went to this club called Knuckleheads, and they had all these different artists that would come through regional, national touring acts. Jesse was one of them, and he was a darling there. They loved him and so I just sort of knew of him for a long period of time and kept up with him through social clubs, and I have an appreciation for all the different styles or projects he’s been a part of. 

“His career is pretty amazing Fairly well known in the outlaw country world, but (as he says) some of the people he’s backed up, the country legends, the rock n roll legends he’s backed up, the country legends, the rock and roll legends he’s played on the side of and then his work in cinema. I thought he was a really deep artist, and so we reconnected last year. He played a show in New Orleans, and it just sort of dawned on me as I was watching him. Wow. He would be the guy for this duet project I wanna do. 

“When we made Death Wish Blues we were working up in Woodstock, and we had all this cool vintage gear. I felt like we were in a time capsule while we were up there because we were recording on two-inch tape. We weren’t messing around much with Pro Tools. Everything was being cut live. It felt very much live. It felt very much like a band from a few decades back. We were out there in a studio where Rick Danko used to live in the back, and Big Pink was right up the road, and Woodstock is a place that’s so respectable for so much more history. 

“We were like two miles from Big Pink, and we were in a place called Apple Head Pink (Applehead Recording and Production.) It’s a small place. It’s not massive. It’s kinda cool when you get the scope of it, and it’s kinda like the main street is like the main drag that runs through the city, and there’s the woods, and we were basically out in the woods. I felt pretty inspired. 

Photo by Claude Sawyer

“When I walked in there to that, the bar is set pretty high. Like when I walked in there to produce the Faster record (2021) and we were in this incredible studio. It’s where the Stones recorded and Nine Inch Nails, and all these incredible bands that I’ve been listening to my whole life, and when you walk into a place you go, ‘Ok, here’s the bar. Where am I gonna fall into that?’ The bar was just incredible high, and so we could either make our mark or fall short of it. So, we went in and just worked, worked, worked. It was really cool. It’s a cool experience to be able to collaborate again.” 

Samantha can’t wait to share the stage once again with Buddy Guy. “We’re opening up a couple of shows on his farewell tour. I’m really honored to be a part of it, but it’s bittersweet. I’ll miss him. He’s like the leader of our genre, you know? I’m excited to hopefully trade some licks with him. 

“He’s really about passing the tradition down to the next generation. He did with Kenny Wayne Shephard and he bought Jonny Lang out for years. Now, he’s bringing out even younger performers. He’s very generous, and he shares the stage, and he shared his platform and in a way that’s how you pass the blues to the next generation. He brought up a lotta young people, and that’s pretty cool to see.” 

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