She's circled the world several times over, shared stages with the likes of Buddy Guy, and Johnny Lang, while releasing three albums – which sum up the major milestones that blues singer-guitarist Samantha Fish has racked up at 27.
Just don't call attention to her gender, as Fish made clear to Blues Blast in 2014. Although she's pleased to see fellow artists like Cassie Taylor and Dani Wilde gaining similar recognition, that attention carries its own issues, she explained.

“People don't always take you seriously,” said Fish. “On one hand, people come out to see a girl play because they are intrigued. Just because I am a female and I play guitar doesn't make me a gimmick. I don't believe in gimmicks or being novelty.”

Those same skeptics might be surprised to find out that Fish started out at 15, as a drummer – and counted Keith Urban and Sheryl Crow among her first major inspirations, before hearing blue artists like the late Texas guitar slinger, Stevie Ray Vaughan.

“Just because I am a female and I play guitar doesn't make me a gimmick. I don't believe in gimmicks or being novelty.” 

In particular, Fish credits female artists like Crow and Bonnie Raitt with helping her to realize that the song matters as much as the sound.

That's why she's done songs like “Stop Draggin' My Heart Around,” a cover of the Tom Petty-Steve Nicks duet that appeared on Devon Allman's album, Turquoise (2013).
“It’s not all about shredding on stage or vocal gymnastics. I want to be known as a singer/songwriter as well as a guitarist,” she said.

Fish's latest album, Wild Heart (2015), looks poised to gain her a whole new level of attention and admirers. Produced by Luther Dickinson (Black Crowes, North Mississippi Allstars), the album features himself and Fish on an array of stringed instruments, rounded out by special guests like drummer Brady Blades (Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris), Lightnin' Malcolm (guitar) and Shade Thomas (drums).

The new album finds Fish exploring a rootsier sound, with a hefty dose of Hill Country blues. As Dickinson explains in the album's press release, the basic strategy focused on incorporating these sounds, without softening Fish's emotional honesty – or the gutsy power trio approach of her previous albums, Runaway (2011), and Black Wind Howlin' (2013).
 “Samantha brought her emotional energy from her performances which transcended into the record. The songs are very personal and she delivered. I am proud to be a part of the record,” he said.

Fish feels equally satisfied with the outcome, after seeing how Dickinson helped bring it about.
That's how songs like “Road Runner” – a warning to those who break her heart (“Left me waiting by a red light, I think about him every night”) – appear on the new album beside “Jim Lee Blues Pt. 1,” a song popularized by  Delta blues artist Charley Patton.

 “I was blown away by his ability to color a song. I stepped out of my comfort zone and I couldn’t be more proud of what we made,” she said.

And, whatever you do, don't burn up Fish's ears with gloom and doom predictions – because there's never been a better time for the blues, she feels.

“Guys like The Black Keys, and Jack White are keeping it alive with their music. It’s all about being relevant,” she said.

Live: 9 p.m. Friday, June 10, Vegetable Buddies, 129 N. Michigan St., South Bend, IN (doors open at 4 p.m., must be 21). $15. (574) 232-0954.

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Author: Ralph Heibutzki

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