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Monday, September 8, 2008

Samantha Crain, Old Town School of Folk Music (opening for Sam Phillips)

[Edit: Just confirmed, Samatha and The Midnight Shivers will be at the Double Door here in Chicago on Oct. 17 with Will Hodge, the everybody fields, and McCarthy Trenching]

If you've never been to O.K., well... that's the best introduction I can think of for it. And Samantha Crain might become the best singer to come out of it since Woody Guthrie. I say become because this tiny person with this great big voice that echoed all the way up to my seat in the balcony tonight is only 21. Now to you who've seen the YouTube vid above that's not so shocking, but if you've only heard the songs, well, you'd be as shocked as I was.

Disclaimer: I'm a lover of folk music, but bad folk music is worse than even bad punk music and I've no qualms about walking out on a bad gig. No worries here, however with Samantha Crain. Tonight she gave a great solo performance, no... I take that back, tonight she gave a fan-fucking-tastic performance! She sauntered out on stage in her red cowgirl boots and blew us away with "Devils In Boston" featuring her wailing vocals and a damn fine harmonica.

I soon snuck an envelope outta my pocket and a pen and wrote down all the songs she sang, for being in the balcony I knew I'd never make it to the stage in time to swipe the setlist if she even had one. Sure enough, I never even saw it. I did get to speak to her after the show and hastily grabbed my crumpled and scrawled upon little paper, "oh and here's my attempt to keep track of what you sang!" I squealed a bit too loudly into her angelic face. "But of course, that's a bit crazy, isn't it?!" and I trailed off the end of that sentence with a laugh, to which she replied, "well a bit, but you can email me and I'll try and remember it for you." Sweet kid, this Samantha Crain, and I say that with no sarcasm in the least.

So, I'm embarrassed to email the girl from O.K. and here is what I can make out of what she sang for a captive and attentive audience tonight, who all applauded and some of us cheered and whistled, and one older woman in the balcony even sang along on the one's she knew and got an autographed poster, for she already had the EP, thanks "Campfires and Battlefields" and Matthew over on Song, by Toad:
  • Devils In Boston - a foot stamping, rowdy opener, she shone righteously doing this for us.
  • something with the chorus of "What will I do?"
  • Get The Fever Out - go find this song and listen to it, it's beautiful.
  • Calm Down - unknown to me, a slow and almost melodramatic tune, really lovely and yes, I can't help myself but say it, ...haunting.
  • The River - with an introduction instructing us that indeed it is a comedic song, at least in O.K. where a preacher drowning children while baptizing them in the river really does hit the funny bone, from The Confiscation EP
  • Traipsing Through The Aisles - from The Confiscation EP
  • Where Will You Go? - this was a real and rare treat, a debut of a new song, never before played before an audience and she confessed to being quite nervous about it. I asked her after the show what the name was, this was the working title she gave me, but agreed that it was in flux still. The song was brilliant, full of passion, and I know that's kind of a cliche with her work, but honest to goddess, this song was so real, so full of force, you could see in her body how close to the surface it was for her, how new and raw it was. I think it gave us both chills, her to perform it (she kind of shook it off afterward, like when you get out of a cold pool of water and your flesh is all tingly) and us to receive it, we felt the electricity in the air this evening then.
  • I Wish The Dam Would Break - introduced as a real "Oklahoma kind of sad song" and it truly was.
  • the last song she played was the second song she ever wrote. I didn't get the title, I wish I had, for it reminded me of some of the early Indigo Girls songs, before they became known and when they just wrote folk music like their heroines did. The chorus went, "It ain't over yet... What you say, we hold each other up?" And it was gorgeous and simple and young and honest.
Go and buy Samantha's EP, it's only got five songs, it's all she could afford to do at the time, but there's more to come and it's going to be brilliant. She's heading back into the recording studio as we speak, with her band.

But more importantly go see her and The Midnight Shivers, she's wonderful to hear in person, her voice has incredible range, a tone and shape that is unique and interesting and just jarring enough to be so interesting that you want to keep listening to it for another hour or so to try to see what she'll do with it next, and she's gracious and unassuming on stage, a rare treat in so many ways! Lyrically, her songs travel to all those places of heartache, sadness, melancholy, bittersweet and remembrances long past due. You want to go there with her. You need to go there with her. Go see her. You have received your orders. xoxoxo

The River, The Confiscation EP, Samantha Crain and the Midnight Shivers 2007

Change Your Mind, Demos, Samantha Crain 2007

I Don't Wanna Know, Strange Fire, Indigo Girls 1987

buy The Confiscation EP
her MySpace
(Yes, two very different kinds of folk music for you today, but something about them goes together in my mind, ... the early rawness of an emerging woman artist perhaps)


Davy H said...

Nice piece Tarty!

a Tart said...

Why, thanks for reading it hun! :)

Drunk Country said...

she is delicious.

we'll have some recent tracks from asession she recently did over at, including Get The Fever Out, which is fucking devine.

have at them, tart.


a Tart said...

Ah bless, DC, I must say I don't regret not staying to hear the main act that night, I got what I came for ... Samantha was inspiring, gave me chills. And thanks for poking around over here! I'll be right over, oxoxox