While the official name is Lil’ Memphis Blues Society, there ain’t nothing little about the organization’s June 10th show set to pack the Memphis city square. Diminutive adjectives went out the door as soon as the show’s itinerary was announced last month. No way a concert that will feature a Blues Music Award winner as an opening act could ever be considered a small thing for the rural northeast Missouri town that lends its name to the group of music enthusiasts. The Lil’ Memphis Blues Society strives to bring top talent to the northern Memphis, which does sport a much smaller population than its namesake in Tennessee.
Mission accomplished. Enter up-and-coming blues musician Samantha Fish, fresh off being named the genre’s top new artist. Fish, a 23-year-old from Kansas City recently took home the 2012 BMA award for Best New Artist Debut for her album Runaway.
“I am honored that they [Blues Foundation] recognized ‘Runaway’ as a contender in this category,” Fish said. “Thank you to Mike Zito for doing an incredible job as a producer and mentor.”
It just so happens that Zito will follow up Fish on stage as the Royal Southern Brotherhood, featuring the award-winning singer and guitarist will headline the show.
Fish, a relative newcomer to the industry, has taken the Kansas City Blues scene by storm. The release of Runway helped introduce Fish to the rest of the world.
She notes that the disc’s 10 songs, nine of which are originals by the young artist, bring together “all the sounds I grew up with, with my own spin,” says Fish.
Her website describes the tunes as a vast array of musical styles. Runaway features sharp-edged, riff-driven blues (“Down in the Swamp”), breakneck boogies (“Runaway”), smoky, late-night jazz (“Feelin’ Alright”) as well as hints of the sultry 70s hard rock of Ann and Nancy Wilson and the 4/4 ruggedness of the Rolling Stones.
Throughout, Fish demonstrates astonishing range and depth as a songwriter. Her vocals are cool, confident and nothing less than beguiling.
Fish’s song writing, vocals and guitar play are backed up by producer Mike Zito, a St. Louis native and 2010 Blues Music Award winner. He adds electric guitar on most of Fish’s cuts.
“Mike and I have known each other for a few years now, so he knew the sound and style I was after. He did a great job of taking ideas and giving them direction in the studio setting.”