Sam Ravenna has a penchant for old soul music and appreciation for vintage cars. This fall, the 28-year-old is putting the pedal to the metal on his music career.
A multi-instrumentalist who lives in Truckee, Ravenna released his second solo album on Oct. 19 and he has just completed his longest tour, a two-month run across the country, opening for and playing with Eric Lindell.
The album, “Fragile” is rich with all kinds of soul.
“The last one was more funk,” Ravenna said. “This one’s straight soul the whole way, from classic to neo to Southern and New Orleans, Earth Wind and Fire and it gets into more psychedelic Beatles/Radiohead and even avant gard jazz. It’s all across the board but it’s rooted with the soul aesthetic.”
A graduate of the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, Ravenna moved to the Lake Tahoe area five years ago to ski for a winter. He broke his leg and could not afford to move and became involved in the local music scene, giving music lessons and playing in bands.
Respect from his peers is evidenced in the contributions he received with the 14-track “Fragile.”
The recording sessions were at drummer and engineer John Riley’s house on a Jim Gamble console. It was mixed by Ravenna’s longtime friend and mentor Jocko Randall in Syracuse, New York. South Shore guitarist Wesley Orsolic performed along with keyboardist Brian Silverman and guitarist Cory Hall. Ravenna sings and plays bass. Also contributing were violinist Tim Snider, who plays with Nahko and Medicine for the People, and horn player Scott Flynn, who plays with Odesza, Pretty Lights and John Brown’s Body.
Special guests included Mark Sexton (Sextones), Cas Haley (“America’s Got Talent”), Rob O’Block (Frank Foster) Max Ribner (Nahko and Medicine for the People) Ben Teters (Satsang, Palmslap) and Reed Grimm (“American Idol.”)
Ravenna has been a bass player for North Shore’s Peter Joseph Burtt & The King Tide. Burtt and Lindell, a nationally renowned blues and roots artist, are longtime collaborators.
“I saw Eric play with Dragon Smoke and I was immediately a fan,” Ravenna said. “After I joined Peter Joseph Burtt, we opened for Dragon Smoke in Sebastopol and then at Jazz Fest in New Orleans at One Eyed Jacks. Then I opened for him at Moe’s last summer. He really liked my set and asked me to go on tour playing bass. I asked if I could open, and he said, ‘Come on with me!’”
While visiting Lindell at his home on the outskirts of New Orleans, Ravenna saw Lindell’s cowboy hat collection. He was drawn to black hat, and Lindell gave it to him. Ravenna wore it on the tour, which was a great learning experience, he said.
“Eric has been doing this a long time and he has a great following and we have a similar aesthetic of soul music,” Ravenna said. “I’ve been selling a lot of CDs and getting a lot of great feedback. Playing in Eric’s band has been a learning experience. He definitely has some styles I am not experienced with in the country and blues. It’s been a unique challenge getting the feeling right for those styles. I’ve had a really warm welcome from his fan base.”
Ravenna will remain busy after the tour. He will gig in Hawaii in December and continue to perform locally and regionally.