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Samantha Fish at Blues & Roots Fest, Five Things To Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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In just eight years of her recording career, Samantha Fish has demonstrated an impressive creative range as well as chops beyond her 28 years.

Over the course of four studio albums, a pair of live sets and the all-star collaboration "The Healers," Fish (yes, her real name) has shown herself to be a hot guitarist, singer, songwriter and bandleader, with an expense that ranges from blues to Americana to the garagey rock of her latest album, "Chills & Fever," which she recorded in Detroit with Bobby Harlow of The Go producing and with members of the Detroit Cobras in the band.

She'll be headlining Callahan's Blues & Roots Fest this weekend, but with another album coming this year Fish is still busy building on those roots and expanding where her music can go...

* Fish was happy to take a creative left turn on "Chills & Fever," which she credits to producer Harlow's vision. "We wanted to do these rock 'n' roll soul songs, these obscure classics, I guess," she explains by phone from her home in New Orleans. "They really weren't hit songs but they sounded like hits. We found all this great material, everything from Motown, obscure girl groups, I pulled in some Allen Toussaint, Nina Simone, Skip James and everything. So we had this really cool concept record."

* "Chills & Fever" also allowed Fish to make another change she'd been contemplating for awhile. "I've always wanted to expand my band," she says. "I've always had a pretty hardcore rock trio since I started playing music. I wanted to have different elements and layers, and you can hear that I think. My songwriting on all my albums has always had an extra layer. So after 'Wild Heart' (a rootsy album produced by the North Mississippi Allstars' Luther Dickinson) came out it seemed like a good time to expand the band and try something different."

* Fish says that her "approach to vocals was a little bit different on this record," while "Chills & Fever" also gave her the chance to work with a second guitarist in Detroit Cobras/Sponge alumnus Joey Mazzola. "I've only had guitar players as producers up to this point -- Luther Dickinson and Mike Zito, so guitar has been a key figure, very prominent thing on my records," Fish says. "We brought in Joey to play rhythm guitar; I play rhythm too but he's an encyclopedia of stuff like that and an expert in this style of music. I did all the soloing and leads, but brining him in to lay down the foundation made a big, big difference."

* Fish's next album, "Belle Of The West," is due out in November and was recorded before "Chills & Fever." "'Chills & Fever' was kind of a concept records. For this one I went back with Luther Dickinson and picked up Jimbo Mathus, Amy Levere, Lightning Malcom," Fish says. "It's kind of an Americana/rootsy/songwriter records. Most of the songs there are kind of the flipside to the 'Chills & Fever' coin. And it's some of my most personal songwriting. So it's two really dynamic kind of concept records in one year."

* Fish is pleased with the kind of musical range she's been able to explore in her still-young career. "You make your first couple of records and you really start finding out who you are and all the directions you can go and what you want to do," she says. "By that time your audience thinks they've got you figured out and what they think you should be doing, and then you hit them with something different. It's a double-edged sword, but there's been a good reception to 'Chills & Fever;' at first people were kind of scared, but I've always tried to push the boundaries of what I'm doing. I don't really feel like anything should be off limits."

Blues & Roots Fest with Samantha Fish, Jim McCarty & Friends, Tino G's Dumpster Funk, the Bobby Murray Band, the Reefermen and more

3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 27.

Wildwood Amphitheater, 2700 Joslyn Court, Lake Orion.

Tickets are $40 and $30.

Call 248-858-9508 or visit atcallahans.com.

Web Site: www.atcallahans.com

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