Samantha Fish Concert Review

16 Jul


Samantha Fish Concert Review

By: Bob Gersztyn

All Photography Copyright By Bob Gersztyn



I know that I did a blog where I declared myselfΒ  no longer a member of the elite cadry that comprise the army of rock photographers and journalists that perpetuate the rock & roll myth. However, after one is addicted to the art of that craft, it becomes impossible to kick the impulsive habit, especially if it doesn’t cost anything and doesn’t require a photo pass. Such was the case on Thursday night, July 7, 2016, at Monteith River Park, in Albany, Oregon, where they’ve been having free summer concerts for the past 30 years. This was the first week of the season, and Samantha Fish was the featured act. I wasn’t familiar with her, so I Googled some of her Utube videos and was impressed, so I made plans to attend the concert, since Albany is less than 20 miles by the Interstate 5 freeway

It wasn’t supposed to rain, but this is Oregon and we live in the valley surrounded by rain forests, so you never know when some precipitation might form. Fortunately it was the fine mist type of rain rather than the torrential deluge brand. I invited one of my friends who has a green thumb and grows cannabis to accompany me. He’s accompanied me to many of the concerts that I’ve shot over the past 22 years and since recreational weed is now legal in Oregon we enjoy the events with much less paranoia.


It seems that the rainy weather kept a huge crowd away, so when we arrived there were places available in every location, including right in front of the stage. Since I didn’t know for sure whether the crowd would augment or not I set my blanket on a place directly in front of the stage, left of center, as I faced it. I almost always chose this location if I was limited in movement, since most guitarists are right handed and this gives you the best angle for photographs. I still wasn’t sure whether anyone would hassle me for shooting with a telephoto zoom in front of the stage. At first I shot judiciously, but as it became apparent that nobody cared what I did, I began to shoot nonstop, especially since it doesn’t cost any more to shoot 1000 images than it does 10. Of course you have to edit everything, but with an excessive amount to go through, you can just pick the ones that jump out at you, to reduce your inventory.



When we first arrived there was an opening duo performing, as I spread my blanket and place my unopened umbrella, monopod and camera bag on it. I took a few shots of the duo and then put my camera in my bag, which I slung over my shoulder and went to the lawn chair section where my friend was sitting on top of a bucket with a 2″ thick piece of foam rubber. Next to him was another bucket with foam that he set up for me. I told him that I would spend most of my time on the blanket, where there was room for him, but would alternately come back. He said that his back couldn’t handle sitting on a blanket like in the old days.



The duo began at 7:00 PM and played for half an hour, then the stage was set up for “The Samantha Fish Band,” which began at 7:45 PM. and played some fantastic blues and rock for the next 2 hours. To say that Samantha Fish is phenomenal is an understatement, but in the age instantaneous recognition on the internet, there is still nothing like a live show. Her guitar playing ability rivals any male counterpart, from Buddy Guy to Joe Bonnamassa, while her crystalline vocals are permeated with influences ranging from blues and rock divas, to country and folk queens.



As soon as Fish began to perform I returned to my blanket, which was now completely covered with rain drops, that hadn’t soaked in yet, so I shook them off and opened my umbrella. I put the open umbrella down on the blanket and put my camera bag and monopod under it, to keep them dry, as the mist continued to condense on the ground. At first I took my camera out for a song and then put it away, until people were coming up and taking photos using everything fromΒ  cell phones to telephoto lenses bigger than mine. By that time I was taking as many photos as I wanted and even used the repeat shoot mode that was like the old film motor drives, but instead of costing $10.00 to $15.00 to shoot a 36 exposure roll of slide film in 6 seconds, there was no cost to shoot 360 a minute or even 3,600 images in an hour.

Samantha Fish is in her early twenties and hails from the city that Leiber & Stoller immortalized in their 1950’s R&B hit, Kansas City; “They got some crazy little women there…”Β  “The Samantha Fish Band,” took the stage by storm as a power trio consisting of Samantha Fish on lead guitar and lead vocals, along with drummer Go-Go Ray and Chris Alexander playing bass guitar. They performed a 2 hour set that covered songs from all 3 of her albums, released on the Ruff Record label. “Runaway” and “Black Wind Howlin’,” came out in 2011 and 2013 respectively and were produced by blues producer and musician Mike Zito. Her most recent release is “Wild Heart,” which came out in 2015 and was produced by Luther Dickenson, lead guitarist and singer of the “North Mississippi All Stars. His father, the late Jim Dickenson was a legendary record producer and musician, that worked with everyone from Bob Dylan to the “Rolling Stones.”



After a few numbers the crowd was on its feet dancing and at one point an excited fan, dressed in biker leathers ran up to the stage and handed Samantha a rose that she accepted as he danced in front of the stage. Her guitar playing was phenomenal, as she continually switched instruments for each song. She alternated between 2 fender electric guitars with a fish decorating the top and what looked like a red cigar box banjo sized instrument made from a one gallon can from a flammable liquid, along with occasionally using an acoustic guitar. Her voice was as polished as her guitar playing as it soared into the stratosphere. There was supposed to be a fireworks display immediately after the concert ended, so after the encore Fish was asked to perform one more song, before the fireworks show began. She willingly obliged and asked the crowd if they were ready to have some fun and then the band began the intro to “Black Sabbath’s” anti war song “War Pigs,” as Fish began to sing:


“Generals gathered in their masses,

just like witches at black masses…” War Pigs


By the time that the band concluded their sonic pyrotechnics, the sky lit up with the visual counterpart.



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