American Routes Shortcuts: Samantha Fish

Jun 8, 2018

Samantha Fish
Credit American Routes

Guitarist Samantha Fish grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, where classic rock radio and a local club lead her to the stage. She studied Delta blues guitar players, as well as Bonnie Raitt and Slash, to develop a modern blues sound. Samantha has proved her ability to shred, and has released five solo albums since 2009.

Samantha Fish: I didn’t really get into music until I was a teenager, I guess. I mean I just sort of found it. I was really shy, and it became an outlet then for me.

Nick Spitzer: And there was a club called Knuckleheads, tell me about Knuckleheads, set the scene.

SF: I know the name is funny but the people that run it like Frank Hicks and people that worked there were so encouraging to me, and you know Frank would hit up the guys playing there whatever night of the week and say, “Hey I got this girl to play guitar and sing, can you let her up?” And when I started seeing music close up and I started seeing people tour, I was like, wow these guys have careers, and you know it doesn’t have to be super mega pop star is the only way to make it. It was really inspiring going there for me as a teenager.

NS: I have to say, people tend to think of blues as men, did you ever think about, “How will I get up and play blues?” I mean not everybody in your age bracket was going to blues or doing these things, much less a woman.

SF: I think when I was 15 and I started, I had this thing in my head that kind of blocked me from learning lead guitar because I think I just saw it as “guys did that,” and for some reason I didn’t see a lot of girls “shredding.” And a couple of years later I was like, that’s stupid why did I let that bother me? I’m gonna do that because it’s really cool. And so I started, learned how to play lead guitar but, I don’t know, I mean also being a female is a double-edged sword because it draws people in because they’re curious but then at the same time it’s a little annoying because it’s like a novelty.

NS: The American Dream. That song seems to take you out into the world of social commentary.

SF: You know, all of my songs kind of have this twist of sarcasm to them, there’s a little bit of that, it’s a little tongue in cheek. I see a lot of people just turn a blind eye to injustices and that’s really what that song is about, the American Dream is more of like putting your blinders on and focusing on your life and not really having to care about what’s going on around you. There’s a lot of messed up stuff going on so I think the blues has a pretty relevant spot in today’s society.

NS: You’ve also had a look. You’ve got this great hair, you get onstage in all kinds of amazing outfits. It all feels to me like it just works really well with the music.

SF: That’s the thing is that the music is so tough, but I’m also a woman, you know. You gotta own that femininity because when I was coming up playing guitar, I didn’t feel like I had that, and I think if I might have had that, maybe I would’ve picked up lead a little earlier. Maybe I would have connected to it sooner. I’m a chick who loves sparkly things and playing guitar.

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