Bright Sunny South Sam Amidon
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- 1Bright Sunny South04:24
- 2I Wish I Wish02:47
- 3Short Life03:01
- 4My Old Friend02:45
- 5He's Taken My Feet04:32
- 7As I Roved Out03:44
- 8Shake It Off01:55
- 10Streets of Derry03:54
- 11Weeping Mary03:17
Info for Bright Sunny South
The album by Sam Amidon 'Bright Sunny South' was produced by Amidon with his childhood friend and longtime collaborator Thomas Bartlett (a.k.a. Doveman) and legendary English engineer Jerry Boys (Buena Vista Social Club, Vashti Bunyan, R.E.M.) and recorded in London, the record features a band made up of Bartlett and multi-instrumentalists Shahzad Ismaily and Chris Vatalaro. Jazz trumpeter Kenny Wheeler also makes a cameo. Amidon himself not only sings but also plays banjo, fiddle, acoustic guitar, and piano on the album.
Amidon describes Bright Sunny South as a “a lonesome record” and a return to the more spare sound of his 2007 self-recorded debut, But This Chicken Proved Falsehearted: “There was an atmospheric quality to my last two records; those albums are like a garden of sounds,” says Amidon, “but this one is more of a journey, a winding path. The band comes rushing in and then they disappear. It comes from more of a darker, internal space.”
A longtime admirer of Boys’ work, Amidon was particularly enamored of his recordings with Martin Carthy in the 1970s, as well as the Ali Farka Touré/Toumani Diabaté duet albums on World Circuit/Nonesuch: “Those are so beautiful. I listened to all of that. I loved the sense of documentation, the unadorned quality. Everything sounded so clear.”
The Vermont-born and raised, London-based Amidon is known for his reworking of traditional melodies into a new form. In addition to country ballads and shape-note hymns, Bright Sunny South features interpretations of traditional and contemporary songs, including Tim McGraw’s “My Old Friend” and Mariah Carey’s “Shake It Off.” The record also includes a version of “Weeping Mary,” a shape-note hymn that his parents, Peter and Mary Alice Amidon, had recorded with the Vermont-based Word of Mouth Chorus for Nonesuch Records on the 1977 disc Rivers of Delight: American Folk Hymns from the Sacred Harp Tradition.
Bright Sunny South follows 2010’s critically acclaimed I See the Sign, which earned Amidon praise from SPIN for his “quirky alchemy…contrasting pretty sounds with violent lyrical undercurrents” and Pitchfork, which said, “[Amidon’s] interpretations are so singular that it stops mattering how (or if) they existed before.”
Prior to I See the Sign, which was released on the Iceland-based label Bedroom Community, Amidon released But This Chicken Proved Falsehearted (Plug Research, 2007) and All Is Well (Bedroom Community, 2008). In addition to his solo albums, Amidon has collaborated on performances pieces with musical polymath Nico Muhly, toured as part of Thomas Bartlett’s group Doveman and the Brooklyn band Stars Like Fleas, collaborated with Beth Orton, and embarked on a series of live shows with the guitarist Bill Frisell.
'A quiet, austere album that emphasizes Amidon’s banjo playing and singing … He not only has an impressively deep knowledge of traditional song forms, but takes liberties with the country's past in order to document his own personal present.' (Pitchfork)
'Amidon reopens his songbook to the lonesome sound of a faint church organ and delicately picked guitar, awakening a spirit of strange, gentle melancholy that runs throughout the album. Though other instruments emerge from the corners, their sparing deployment against Amidon’s fragile voice lends them a far greater power, like vivid flourishes of colour in a starkly monochrome film.' (MOJO )
Sam Amidon, guitar, banjo, fiddle, vocals
Thomas Bartlett, piano, Hammond organ, Wurlitzer
Shahzad Ismaily, electric and acoustic guitars, electric bass
Chris Vatalaro, drums, percussion
Kenny Wheeler, trumpet (Tracks 2, 5)
Doug Wieselman, clarinets (Track 11)
Tyler Gibbons, electric bass (Track 10)
Singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/artist Samuel Tear (aka Sam Amidon) began playing fiddle at the age of three. Raised by musician parents on a steady diet of Irish and Appalachian folk in Brattleboro, VT, Amidon spent the early arc of his teens performing and recording traditional dance and Avant-folk music with his parents, as well as his own group, Assembly.
He added banjo and guitar to his repertoire after relocating to New York City, where he began collaborating with longtime friend Thomas Bartlett (Doveman), as well as a host of other acts like Tall Firs, the Swell Season, and Stares.
He released his debut album, Solo Fiddle, in 2003, followed in 2007 by But This Chicken Proved False Hearted and All Is Well in 2008. Amidon married singer/songwriter Beth Orton and the two had a son in 2011. Output remained strong from Amidon as he entered into family life, with new volumes arriving in the form of 2009's duet with percussionist Aaron Siegel Fiddle & Drum, 2010's I See The Sign and 2013's Bright Sunny South.