Concert review

Samantha Fish fills another sold-out room with warm vibe, array of music styles

Updated: 2014-01-06T01:49:08Z

By TIMOTHY FINN

The Kansas City Star

Three days after she sold out the venue’s main stage on New Year’s Eve, Samantha Fish returned Friday to Knuckleheads and sold out its other room.

Playing for an audience of about 60 in the Living Room, she delivered two hours of original songs and covers, showcasing her singing, songwriting, guitar playing and engaging personality.

Fish is classified as a blues artist, but she crosses musical borders. Her set list this evening included country songs — her own “Last September” and a cover of “Tennessee Waltz” — a jaunty version of Steve Miller’s “Jet Airliner,” John Hiatt’s “Native Son,” a lovely, mournful version of the Stones’ “Dead Flowers,” Tom Petty’s “Louisiana Rain” and three Tom Waits covers: “Walking Spanish Down the Hall,” “Heart Attack and Vine” and “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up” (hers was more like the Ramones’ version).

Throughout the show, she told stories and traded banter with the audience and her bandmates, filling the room with a casual and friendly vibe. She was backed by her stout and steady rhythm section: virtuoso Go Go Ray on drums and Chris Alexander, who switched from electric bass to upright throughout the set and added some nice vocal harmonies on a few songs.

Fish spent much of the evening playing rhythm and leads on acoustic guitar, but for several songs, including covers of R.L. Burnside’s “Poor Black Mattie” and Junior Kimbrough’s “Nobody But You,” she showed some prowess on Dobro, which she said she was playing live for the first time.

Amid those covers and others (“In My Time of Dying” and Charley Patton’s “Jim Lee Blues”), she played several of her own songs: the molten and grimy “Go to Hell,” from her latest album, “Black Wind Howlin’ ”; “Runaway,” the title track to her debut album; “Let’s Have Some Fun,” which she played solo-acoustic; “Other Side of the Bottle,” which she hammered out on the Dobro; and the bittersweet and soulful ballad “Over You.”

But this show was as much about Fish paying respect to her favorite bands, songwriters and influences as it was her own songs. So she ended with more covers, including a version of the Band’s “Ophelia” that had a nice Bonnie Raitt vibe to it, Petty’s “Louisiana Rain” and then “Jet Airliner.”

She is only in her mid-20s, but Fish displayed an impressive knowledge of and respect for music of yore and the skills and polish that should ensure her a long, bright future filling rooms of all sizes.

To reach Timothy Finn, call 816-234-4781 or send email to tfinn@kcstar.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/phinnagain. Read more from him at our music blog, Back to Rockville, at KansasCity.com.

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