Samantha Fish’s musical interests began with the drums until her dad showed her a few guitar chords as a 15 year old and she never looked back. Since then she’s let her roots of growing up listening to blues and soul music mix with a love of edgy rock and punk sounds percolate and evolve into a sound all her own.
Friday night at the Crystal Bay Crown Room, she treated fans to a free show in support of her latest record “Chills & Fever,” which adds yet another stylistic layer to her growing catalog. In all, Fish played nine of the 14 tracks off an album she says is her most authentic.
It’s easy to simply watch Samantha Fish. She’s an attractive presence, commanding the stage in her pink high heels, black stretch pants and sparkly crop top, currently capped off with Marilyn Monroe-ish wavy blond curls that she pulls off quite well. However, a funny thing happens a few songs in: you forget about the smoldering sexy exterior that first drew you in, and become captivated by her music and sheer talent.
While only 28, Fish moves like a seasoned pro through numerous blues styles, having expanded her band from a trio to a six-piece ensemble including a pair of horns (Mark Levron on trumpet and Travis Blotsky on saxophone) and a keyboard player (Phil Breen), allowing for even more sonic width. The solid anchor of Kenny Tudrick on drums and Chris Alexander’s bass grooves provide the freedom for Fish to shine. Handling all the primary vocal and guitar duties, she comfortably showed off her exquisite range in a set mixing classic rock-tinged blues with smoky and sultry Memphis tones, down and dirty Mississippi swamp and bright, jazzy, brass-punched New Orleans sounds.
Fish shuffled the tempo and tone all evening long, as well, coming at the audience straight ahead on some tunes, while slowly charming concertgoers into a false calm on others before taking them on guitar lick-filled jam. Within the broad range of styles, Fish and her band showed off a plethora of techniques, including slide on both six-string and a four-string box guitar. She’s not reliant on a lot of effects and enjoyed the cleaner presentations on her beautiful white Gibson SG, and custom “Fish-o-caster” Delaney even more than those with the occasional enhancement from a modest variety of pedals.
Driving home after the show I couldn’t help but reflect how fortunate we are in Tahoe, having been the beneficiaries of free performances just this year from burgeoning blues stars Marcus King and Samantha Fish. As I navigated through the darkness I wondered what a “King-Fish” combination might sound like, a la the fusion of Susan and Derek forming The Tedeschi Trucks Band, and I have to say it might just be amazing.
Here’s hoping we see both of them, separately at the very least, heating up the Crown Room this winter.
Aug. 11, 2017
Crystal Bay Casino
He Did It
Chills & Fever
You Can’t Go
Either Way I Lose
Somebody’s Always Trying
You’ll Never Change
Blame It On The Moon
It’s Your Voodoo Working
Nearer To You
Bitch On The Run
Black Howlin’ Wind