Black Wind Howlin' Samantha Fish
- 1Miles To Go02:45
- 2Kick Around04:26
- 3Go To Hell04:03
- 4Sucker Born04:56
- 5Over You04:18
- 6Who's Been Talking03:23
- 7Lay It Down04:42
- 8Lets Have Some Fun04:29
- 10Foolin' Me04:28
- 11Black Wind Howlin06:54
- 12Last September04:11
Info for Black Wind Howlin'
Take cover: there’s a storm coming. With its lyrical thunderbolts, lightning-flash fretwork and ground-shaking grooves, Black Wind Howlin’ is a record to blow your roof off – and Samantha Fish has stood at the eye of the hurricane. “It has a rebellious streak,” says the bandleader of her game-changing new album, “and a prevalent theme is, ‘I’m not gonna take your sh*t anymore...’”
Released in September 2013 through Ruf Records, Black Wind Howlin’ flips a finger at the cliché of the ‘difficult second album’, firing off 12 classic tracks that chart Samantha’s evolution as songwriter, gunslinger and lyricist. “Since completing Runaway back in 2011,” she reflects of her solo debut, “I’ve been on tour pretty much non-stop. I’ve spent a lot of time writing, playing and listening to music. I feel like the themes and sound of my music have matured. To me, it’s about the human experience from my perspective, as well as people I’ve come into contact with over the last few years.”
While lesser artists work to a template or settle into a pigeonhole, Samantha shifts her shape across the Black Wind Howlin’ tracklisting. She can be brutally rocking on cuts like the tour bus snapshot of Miles To Go (“Twelve hours to Reno/ten hours til the next show”), the swaggering Sucker Born (“Vegas left me weary, LA bled me dry/skating on fumes as I crossed the Nevada line…”) and the venomous Go To Hell (“Oh, this ain’t my first rodeo/You hit yourself a dead end/Your voodoo eyes, ain’t gonna cast a spell/So you can go to hell!”). “I’ve become tougher,” she notes of these head-banging moments, “and I think that was reflected in the sound we went for.”
And yet, elsewhere, backed by the versatile production of Royal Southern Brotherhood guitarist and longtime collaborator Mike Zito, you’ll find Samantha shifting gears to the aching slide-guitar balladry of Over You (“Echoing words, said I’d never make it on my own…”) and the redemptive country strum Last September (“Don’t remember the curves of my face/Can’t feel the warmth in my embrace/Well I’m here to remind you…”). She might stop off for a gritty cover of Howlin’ Wolf’s Who’s Been Talkin’, and co-wrote Go To Hell with Zito, but all other tracks are Samantha’s self-penned originals, and it’s a mix to keep listeners on their toes. “I wanted this record to have a modern rocking sound,” she explains of the light-footed vibe. “I also wanted it to have elements of Americana, country and roots.”
The sessions proved just as rewarding as the writing. As a seasoned road warrior who will spend much of 2013 burning tarmac, recording at Dockside Studios in Maurice, Louisiana was a rare chance for Samantha to put down roots, flanked by a first-call band that included Royal Southern Brotherhood rhythm section Yonrico Scott (drums) and Charlie Wooton (bass), back-up guitar and vocals from Zito, plus guest appearances from Johnny Sansone (harmonica), Bo Thomas (fiddle on Last September) and Paul Thorn (vocals on Go To Hell). “I had a dream team of musicians and special guests,” she recalls. “And Dockside Studios quickly became one of my favourite places on earth.”
But it was another venue, some years earlier, that set Samantha on her musical path. The songwriter recalls her first musical taste as the classic rock of The Rolling Stones and Tom Petty, alongside contemporary artists like Sheryl Crow and The Black Crowes, but after several underage clandestine visits to the Knuckleheads Saloon blues club in her native Kansas City, she followed the thread from modern masters like Zito and Tab Benoit, through fallen ’80s heroes like Stevie Ray Vaughan, right back to the pre-war Delta masters. “I fell in love with it,” she told Premier Guitar of her growing passion for the form, “and started doing my homework by listening to the old guys like Son House and Skip James.”
Soon enough, appreciation for the blues had spilled over into application, and by the age of 18, Samantha had settled on a searing lead guitar style that expressed her own voice rather than mimicking the clichéd blues licks note-for-note. Home practice didn’t scratch the itch, and she broke into a dues-paying period on the Kansas City jam circuit: an apprenticeship at the sharp end that tightened her musical chops, polished her stagecraft and gave her the grit to overcome occasional scepticism about her age, hair tone and gender. “I always hated the idea of the gimmick,” she told Premier Guitar. “People come out just because you are a girl, but then you have so much more to prove once you get them in the door.”
But Samantha got them in – and kept them in – and after an early live recording from Knuckleheads found its way into the hands of label supremo Thomas Ruf, the young bandleader’s trajectory was changed from dreamer to signed artist. Fish’s first appointment for the label was to join Cassie Taylor and Dani Wilde on the 2011 Girls With Guitars album: a whip-cracking three-female release that the trio doused with added rocket fuel on Ruf’s famous Blues Caravan tour of Europe and the US that year. “I don’t get that whole competitive thing, especially when I play with the girls,” insisted Samantha. “When you start trying to get over the top of somebody, you lose what makes it great. That’s when you lose the musical aspect of it.”
With her name buzzing on the blues scene and the iron hot, Samantha struck again that same year with Runaway, her solo debut on Ruf. With ten hot tracks – of which nine were originals – and production once again from Zito, this was a debut album that announced the depth of this newcomer’s talent, mixing up gutsy riff-blues rockers like Down In The Swamp with the mellow small-hours jazz of Feelin’ Alright, while marinating her songwriting in the groove of the Rolling Stones and even tipping a hat to Heart. “It’s all the sounds I grew up with,” she explained, “with my own spin.”
Hitting a receptive international rock press, Runaway was hailed as a thrilling opening gambit, earning a string of rave reviews and accolades, of which the Blues Music Award (BMA) for ‘Best New Artist Debut’ in 2012 was perhaps the most auspicious. “I’m truly humbled by the recognition,” Samantha admitted. “I can barely wait to make record #2...”
So here it is. Harder, darker, bolder and better than even its revered predecessor, this is the sound of an artist on the brink of the big-time with both hands on the wheel. “I really got to do exactly what I wanted to do on Black Wind Howlin’,” says Samantha, “and I’m incredibly proud of it...”
Samantha Fish, guitar, vocals
Yonrico Scott, drums, percussion
Charlie Wooten, bass
Mike Zito, guitar, vocals
Paul Thorn, vocals
Johnny Sansone, harmonica
Bo Thomas, fiddle
Recorded at Dockside Studios in Maurice, LA
Engineered by Tony Daigle
Mixed by Tony Daigle and Mike Zito
Mastered by David Farell
Produced by Mike Zito
Executively produced by Thomas Ruf
Just a few months ago, very few people outside Kansas City, Missouri knew there was a young, dynamic musician named Samantha Fish getting ready to take the world by storm. In fact, it's not all that long ago that the 22-year-old singer/guitarist first discovered the blues and started paying her dues on that city's local scene. With Runaway, her solo debut, she now breaks out big time, announcing herself as a newcomer to be reckoned with.
The album's ten tracks - nine of them originals - incorporate "all the sounds I grew up with, with my own spin," says Fish, who seems to have spent her formative years in the Midwest soaking up a vast array of musical styles. Runaway features sharp-edged, riff-driven blues ("Down in the Swamp"), breakneck boogies ("Runaway"), smoky, late-night jazz ("Feelin' Alright") as well as hints of the sultry 70s hard rock of Ann and Nancy Wilson and the 4/4 ruggedness of the Rolling Stones. Throughout, Fish demonstrates astonishing range and depth as a songwriter. Her vocals are cool, confident and nothing less than beguiling.
Backing her on this eclectic collection of modern electric blues is the same crack team that first convened for the making of Girls With Guitars. That collaboration with fellow female artists Cassie Taylor and Dani Wilde, released earlier this year, already showed that Fish refuses to be intimidated, even when working with musicians more experienced than herself. "They are incredibly talented and creative, so it made for fun sessions," she says of the well-oiled studio band heard on Runaway. Jamie Little, one of the UK's most in-demand drummers, reunites with bassist Cassie Taylor to give the record plenty of rhythmic thump. Producer Mike Zito, a St. Louis native and 2010 Blues Music Award winner, adds thick, meaty electric guitar on most cuts. "Mike and I have known each other for a few years now, so he knew the sound and style I was after. He did a great job of taking ideas and giving them direction in the studio setting."
In between making these first two albums, Fish spent a month on the road with Cassie Taylor and Dani Wilde for the first leg of the year-long Blues Caravan Tour. It gave her the valuable opportunity to road-test the material heard on Runaway to a discriminating audience. With an exciting new debut album now in her back pocket, the tour continues throughout the summer and into the fall of 2011, touching down at many European and North American festivals and even taking to the seas on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise in October.