Written by James Killen

I had been regretting my decision to wait to buy tickets for Samantha Fish at the Heights Theater, what with all of the pandemic confusion and cancellations going on, when to my welcome surprise there was another show announced after the first had been sold out for months. I jumped on tickets like a duck on a June bug.

It has been a long drought, waiting for touring musicians through the on again, off again entertainment schedules that have been part of this COVID 19 world. There have been a few shows from South Texas performers available to limited audiences and the on line events have kept struggling artists going like life support.

I understand the need to take precautions to save lives, and keep people healthy, for our society to get through these times and return to a healthy economy and lifestyle. I wear my mask, take the tests when required, wash my hands and socially distance with the best of them, but I miss the interaction and stimulation that comes with attending live music events. It’s making me feel like a dull boy.

We arrived only a little early for the Wednesday night show and took our seats at the table. The seating was not as packed in as is typical for the Heights and the staff was offering table service to keep patrons from leaving their seats when possible. We were all told to move through the hall in a counterclockwise direction, entering the room through the door on the right and leaving through the door on the left. Still with cases in Texas on the rise, the event was not without risks of exposure.

Some things about Heights Theater haven’t changed. They are still lining up great talent. They still have some of the best sound in town and they are still punctual. The show kicked off right on time with Nathan Quick banging out a few blues riffs, but he left the stage after three quick numbers to make room for the main attraction.

Samantha took the stage in a shiny silver suit, accompanied by Ron Johnson on bass and Terence Higgins on drums in a classic blues power trio configuration. She started off taking a slide to her white Gibson SG in the old standby, “Road Runner” followed immediately by the title track from her latest LP, “Kill or Be Kind”. They continued through the show mixing up cuts from the latest CD with old favorites and covers.

She switched to a light blue Fender Jaguar for “Chills and Fever”. Terence set a driving beat for “Wild Heart” as Ms. Fish announced that they were going to rock and roll a little asking if the room of die-hard fans were down for it. They were.  The show continued with lively renditions of “Watch It Die” and “Either Way I Lose”. Ron Johnson proved to be a steady answer to Fish’s rousing leads, always where he should be and answering her riffs.

Higgins and Johnson left the stage while Samantha strapped on an acoustic for “Need You More”, “Jim Lee Blues” and “Love Letters” taking the audience to that quieter side for a bit. The band was back on stage soon when the electric guitars came back out as they played “You Got It Bad”, “I Wish I Was in Heaven Sitting Down” and “Dream Girl”.

Samantha saved one of the high points of the show for the end. Every Samantha Fish fan looks forward to the part of the show when she brings out the four string cigar box guitar and begins to whip it with her slide. She started out on “Miles to Go” and followed with “Bulletproof” from the latest production. The band left the stage briefly, coming out to do Neil Young’s “Don’t Let It Bring You Down” as an encore that Samantha pronounced to be an apt choice for the year that we have all had.

The show for the evening ended promptly (as it had started) at eleven. The audience seemed sated after a long drought of entertainment. We had taken the risk and ventured out and the reward was well worth it. Samantha Fish, still presenting that bad girl of the blues persona, delivered a well-honed professional performance. There is hope that we will get past this healthcare hurdle and on to normal life in the near future and Samantha Fish will be providing us with entertainment opportunities as we recover. Keep your eye on her. She is sure to deliver blues satisfaction.