By Dave Resto
Singer/songwriter/guitarist Samantha Fish, who is currently touring with a hot new band, performed to a full house at Moondog’s Pub, just north of Pittsburgh on February 8, 2018. Prior to the start of the concert, proprietor Ron “Moondog” Esser made a brief announcement, saying of Fish, “This may be the last time you see her in a venue this small and we’re happy for her. She deserves it.”
At 29, the Kansas City, MO native, who has been recording and touring non-stop since 2009, can accurately be called prolific. Fish released two praise worthy albums in 2017 – Chills and Fever in March and Belle of the West in November (both on Ruf Records). Her stated focus for 2018 is to perform these albums live for her fans.
To that end, Fish has assembled a six-piece band, which packed the stage at Moondog’s. Opening the show with the soulful, sexy groove of “Hello Stranger” from her album, Chills and Fever, the band set the atmosphere for Samantha Fish to walk onstage to warm applause. Her jazzy guitar tone and her silk-soft voice transported the room back to the 1960s with her take on the Barbara Lewis classic.
Shifting gears to her Mississippi mud-infused, Americana roots album Belle of the West, she traded electric guitar for acoustic guitar to play “American Dream.” The song was beautifully replicated, with violin and fife layering over the Civil War-era martial drum beat. The chorus, “I’m living the American Dream,” was hauntingly rendered by having so many voices to lift it high above the dirge-like melody.
Other stand out moments of the night came from her album, Belle of the West. The sadly beautiful ballad of the painted lady, “Belle of the West” was artfully embellished upon, adding Mexicali horns and honky-tonk piano to the mix. On “Gone for Good,” Fish gave her Taylor acoustic guitar a severe workout, finger-picking and sliding with little regard for the well-being of strings or frets.
At one point in the show, a rowdy audience member playfully heckled Fish, asking, “Is that all you got?” To which Fish replied, “Not really. Shit, boys. Now we have to throw down!” That launched the band into the soul-scorching, horn-driven, “Somebody’s Always Trying.” Fish drove the bus until the wheels fell off on this one. For the next ten minutes, she steered the band from it’s up-tempo beginning, to it’s half-tempo break down, to its epic crescendo and back to its original up-tempo to finish strong. With equal parts class and sass, Fish shut down any other heckling for the evening.
Known for throwing in some high-profile cover songs at her shows, it remained to be seen which one she’d choose. On this night, it was “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)” by the Rolling Stones, which was the show’s finale. It was an impressively faithful version with little embellishment. As the band cycled through the chorus, Samantha Fish said good night and exited the stage.
The band left the stage briefly, before returning with Fish for an encore. Wearing a cigar box guitar on her shoulder and a slide on her finger, Fish thanked the crowd before launching into a blistering rendition of, “Crow Jane” from Chills and Fever.
Samantha Fish is a genuinely amazing talent, live or on record. Those who were fortunate to be in attendance for her sold-out show on February 8 will certainly understand if she finds herself shopping for larger venues in the very near future.
Samantha Fish is currently on tour. For her tour schedule and for more information:
Tour schedule: http://www.samanthafish.com/tour/