Written by James Killen
I’ve had several people whose opinions on music I respect, tell me that I had to catch blues lady, Samantha Fish. I got my opportunity Friday night at the iconic Heights Theater. A Kansas City native, Fish struck me as a hard working guitarist having written and released two studio albums in 2017 and performing a lot since then.
Opening for the Texas leg of the tour was Houston’s own, John Egan. John Egan keeps alive an acoustic blues tradition honoring Lightning Hopkins and Willie Dixon on vintage resonator guitars, while writing his own original tunes and mixing it up electric every now and again. On his short set, Egan performed his “Mississippi Ran Backward” and Dixon’s “Spoonful”, as well as some freshly written tunes before closing out with the classic “See that my Grave is Kept Clean”. The amazing sound at the Heights really accentuated John’s fine performing skills so you could hear every slip of the slide. If you live in Houston and you haven’t seen John Egan, it’s your own darned fault, because he is performing all over town, almost every week.
Samantha Fish’s band played an intro, complete with flute trills as Fish followed them on to the stage to begin her show with “American Dream” followed directly by the title track of “Chills and Fever”. It doesn’t take long to see that Samantha has two distinct personas, the pouty young blues singer and a more countrified Americana blues artist. Both personas can really play guitar. She has put together a really tight band with a fantastic keyboards guy, a cool horn section and a driving rhythm section.
A good portion of the show was spent covering songs from the last two discs, “Belle of the West” and afore mentioned, “Chills and Fever”. “Either Way I Lose”, “Blood in the Water” and “Need You More” were just a sample of those tunes. Samantha displayed her guitar virtuosity on an extended version of “Somebody’s Always Trying”, starting out blues rocking, drifting off in a psychedelic mix of pedals and electronic treatments before syncing it back up for a resounding close to the song. Fish chose to close out the set with a great cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Heartbreakers (with your 44)” complete with the “Doo, Doo, Doot, Da Doo” chorus.
The band couldn’t leave the theater without giving in to the calls for an encore. Samantha came out alone at first to do an acoustic performance of the Stones’ “Dead Flowers” in a sultry country voice. She was then joined on stage by the band as she hung a cigar box guitar around her neck and picked up a slide for her rollicking “Shake ‘Em On Down”. The energy almost visibly flowed from the stage through the audience.
It was clear from this evening’s performance what my friends had been talking about. This young lady is a serious musician and a creative song writer. It seems like she is just getting started. Look for her to do some really great things in the music business as she matures and look for her to do a show near you. You wouldn’t want to miss it.