Samantha Fish

By Lori Smerilson Carson | Photos by Brad Stevens

The night was truly an entertaining one as artists engaged with the audience to create memorable moments of music that exuberated energy and enthusiasm. Singer/Songwriter/Guitarist Samantha Fish and her band delivered outstanding shows in the Midwest and Northeast that honestly displayed their extraordinary talents. Florida fans can experience this phenomenon in Fort Lauderdale at the Broward Center on February 2nd and in Orlando at the Hard Rock Live on February 3rd.

Fish, recipient of several awards including Best New Artist at the 2012 Blues Music Awards for her album Runaway released in 2011, has been going strong since her first album Live Bait released in 2009. She utilized her amazing musical abilities during COVID to write and release LP Faster in 2021 and now, she has released an EP The Stardust Sessions with blues and country musician Dayton. They also collaborated on a full-length album Death Wish Blues that will be released in 2023.

Catching up with Fish during her latest tour and prior to their northern shows, she revealed some details about the new EP, the upcoming record, the latest shows and what fans can look forward to.

SFL Music: I heard the song “Brand New Cadillac” and I saw the video. It’s awesome!
Samantha Fish: Thank you. I’m excited about it too.

SFL Music: How did this all come about that you hooked up to work with Jesse Dayton (singer/songwriter/guitarist)? There’s a hometown story?
Fish: He used to come through Kansas City when I was pretty young. Jesse’s got a really amazing story and career where he’s backed up so many people and he’s done so many vast projects and things like that, but he used to bring his band through Kansas City and I was real young. He was one of the bands that I would just go attend and see. So, we knew of each other and kind of kept in touch loosely, but this really didn’t come together ‘til last winter when he came through New Orleans which is where I reside now. My manager and I had been talking about an idea for a secondary band for a couple years now. Like a side project sort of. We had an aesthetic in mind and music and certain, just sound, and when I saw Jesse, I leaned over and I told Rueben (Williams), I said, yeah, it’s got to be, it’s got to be him! This is the band. If he’s interested, this is it. So, we started working on it and he was interested. We got together in May in New Orleans. We started co-writing together and then we went into the studio. It was just funny because we didn’t even know we were gonna go do that which is the session that we got “Brand New Cadillac” and all those songs out of, but it was kind of like, yeah you guys are going in the studio to cut some fun stuff for content. Just pick a couple cover songs. It turned out so great that the label wanted to put it out as an EP. We went and did that, and then we got back together in August and recorded a full-length original album with Jon Spencer, and now we’re just kind of gearing up for introducing that to the world.

SFL Music: That’s Death Wish Blues?
Fish: Mmhmm.

SFL Music: What would you say was the inspiration for this upcoming album?
Fish: I’ve always wanted to do a collaborative record like this which is kind of like in this vein, like all blues, mixed rock and roll or punk rock, but great songs. The thing is, when you set out with an intention to make a genre specific album, a lot of times the album becomes its own thing and the genre specification is like, best laid plans you know? Whatever. It doesn’t always turn out exactly the way you envision it. We just started writing together and it’s like, however we clicked best. That’s kind of you know, that was our best foot forward. Working with Jon Spencer I think definitely colored this album in a way that is final to how it turned out. He’s got a great sense of production and songwriting. He was really, really like key in the whole sound of this upcoming record. I think it turned out better than I could even imagined.

SFL Music: The last time we spoke you were working on your Faster album and saying it was really fun and it was a take control, feminine energy which you can hear in the songs. What would you say this new record may be leaning toward for a theme?
Fish: I’ve always written from a singular perspective; you know what I mean? So, people can kind of interpret them as you will, but I think people will interpret these as like duets are generally interpreted. It’s more interpersonal. Now we have two characters and components in the songs you know, singing and selling them (she laughed), but there’s a lot of relationship songs. A lot of songs about either good love or bad love or toxic love. I mean, the title track is called Death Wish Blues and it’s about a relationship. So, it’s a lot of relationship songs, and then Jesse and I kind of play that out you know, as the two main lead characters in this film (she laughed).

SFL Music: Some of the songs on THE STARDUST SESSIONS, “Brand New Cadillac” and “I’ll Be Here In The Morning” and “Feelin’ Good”. What made you choose those songs by other artists?
Fish: Well, we wanted to kind of give people a taste of what style we were channeling. So, we got The Clash which is kind of you know, it’s got the punk rock, OG sense to it. “Feelin’ Good”, that’s something Jesse brought to the table. It’s a Magic Sam song. He played me this live version of it that’s just like, rip your face right off kind of good guitar playing, and we wanted something that was like I said, where punk rock meets blues and that’s kind of where Jon Spencer came into the fold because he’s one, I feel like a very important figure in that world. Jesse plays outlaw country in a lot of ways and he’s played with some of the best country musicians in the world. He backed up Johnny Cash and Waylon (Jennings), and Townes Van Zandt’s one of my favorite writers and I wanted to pull in that song to show a different side ‘cause we have these two songs, The Clash and Magic Sam where we just sort of beat everybody over the head real fast and I wanted to show people that we have some dynamics as well.

SFL Music: I can hear that and I loved your guitar solo. The last time we spoke it was during COVID and you were finding all these old guitars you were bringing to new life. The guitar in the video, was that a Gibson?
Fish: Yeah, I played my Gibson SG and he’s got a hollow body, I think it’s called a King, what he has. He’s got a big hollow body guitar, so our tone is complimentary and different enough and we also have really different voices, the way that we play guitar. So, it’s kind of cool. I haven’t played with another guitar player probably in ten years, so finding out a way to support each other and also play complimentary stuff to each other, it’s a little tricky. You don’t want too much of the same sound over the top of each other. It just becomes muddy and confusing and not nice to listen to. So, he and I are kind of like figuring out how to buzz back each other up. It’s kind of cool, but it’s challenging. Yeah, I’ve been playing my SG a lot, but now that I’m back on the road in a bus scenario, it’s kind of nice ‘cause I can bring everything (she laughed) that I want.

SFL Music: So, there’s going to be a lot of a variety of guitars in the show?
Fish: Yes. I call it the guitar rodeo. It’s like every two songs we tried out a new one.

SFL Music: You were talking about possibly designing a guitar or working with someone to design. Are any of these a new design?
Fish: Yeah. I mean, I have several that are. I have a couple custom made instruments, but I haven’t gotten anything lately that’s new. I think my newest addition to the arsenal is a Jazzmaster (Fender) and I picked it up a few months ago at a guitar shop. So yeah, nothing so off the rack that you’d have to get it made. I’ve been kind of sticking to just, especially if I’m trying something new, I just get kind of like a standardized guitar that I can beat up a little bit you know, to see if I like it, but if I fell in love with it, maybe I could call Fender and be like hey, I want to make a special one or whatever, but I haven’t gotten there yet with it.

SFL Music: The Dayton band. That Jesse’s band, correct? What can fans look forward to with those shows?
Fish: They are on the road with us right now. So, Jesse and I just basically completed our first set of shows together. We did four shows, two in California. Two in North Carolina. We played the Whisky a Go Go which is really amazing, but it was kind of done as like a soft open to what people can kind of expect. We didn’t play everything off the new album because it’s not coming out for six months. We don’t want to give away everything before it’s time, but we wanted to kind of introduce people to this idea via The Stardust Sessions. So, we did these four shows together, and then my band from the Faster tour met us on the road. Jesse’s band met him. So, Jesse has been opening the shows. I’ve been closing them and then he comes up and we do a little something, something generally at the end.

SFL Music: What was the supporting the Allman Family Revival?
Fish: We did two of those. We just opened two of those shows in North Carolina.

SFL Music: How did the tour you’re going to be doing with Kenny Wayne Shepherd in Florida come about?
Fish: I think we’re both booked by the same booking agent if you want to know the unglamorous part of it. No, I mean, I’ve known Kenny for years and we’ve done a few shows with him. He’s got a great band and he’s a great dude. Great guy, and his whole crew and team are amazing, so we love working with him whenever we get the chance to. Every once in a while, it works out within both of our routings to do something together. So, we take advantage of it when we can.

SFL Music: Are there any other side projects fans can look forward to? Obviously, you’re very, very busy!
Fish: Well, I think that’s enough for now (she laughed). Maybe down the line we’ll come up with something else.

SFL Music: Its amazing everything you’re doing. How do you keep yourself going? Eat right, exercise?
Fish: Yeah, you’ve got to. You got to figure out ways to keep everything healthy and in check.

SFL Music: Are there any new videos coming out?
Fish: Yeah, we have to shoot content. So, I mean, we’re gonna be bringing things out slowly, but surely.

SFL Music: Was there anything else you want people to know?
Fish: If they want a little sneak peek, they can always look me up online, I’m on all social media. There’s a zillion videos on YouTube, but you know, you got to come see a live show really to get the full effect of what we’re trying to do. We’re going to be touring up a storm next year. Me and Jesse and me and my band. I’m looking forward to it.

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