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Sam Philips Concert in Seattle

It was last year that I saw Sam Philips at The Triple Door in Seattle but I still wanted to post some pictures and a small write-up of this concert!

This was the first time I have seen Sam Philips live and she and her band were absolutely fantastic. Really! First the warm-up: Seattle's own Robert Deeble opened with well... it's hard to describe. His music is somewhere between indie folk-pop, minimalist and... well head over to his website and check it out for yourself.

Robert Deeble (right) at The Triple Door

The concert was sold out, something that surprised me given that Sam Philips isn't exactly well-known - or so I thought. Apparently she contributed some music to the TV show  Gilmore Girls and even appeared on screen in a season finale. We arrived 2 hours early and still got fairly decent seats but the place was packed.
I primarily own Sam's older stuff such as "Martinis & Bikinis", "The Indescribable Wow" and "Omnipop" and am not familiar with her latest stuff but I figured it should be good :)

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After Robert Deeble and his colleague had finished Sam Philips and her band set up:

  • Drummer Jay Bellrose with a rather eclectic drum set
  • Violinist Eric Gorfain with a variety of violins, including a Stroh violin with a sizeable metal horn, a banjo and some guitars
  • Accordionist Ted Reichman sitting a bit more in the background.

Soon they started and I was very impressed with the cozy atmosphere of The Triple Door and how well it worked with Sam's style and her accompanying musicians. Especially Jay Bellrose was a joy to watch, pulling one little noisemaker after another out from behind his drum set: rattles, shakers - I felt reminded of a busker and his props. In a big arena this would simply not come across as it would be invisible to the vast audience. In the intimate setting of The Triple Door most people in the audience saw the use of the little noisemakers and the fun that Jay's play exuded.

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Eric Gorfain's Stroh violin did not only sound unique he seemed to enjoy playing it quite a bit. He also switched back and forth between the various violins, a guitar and a banjo and seemed to master all these with ease and enthusiasm. The big variety brought some new interesting interpretations to older Sam Philips songs, especially the ones from her first 3, 4 albums.

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Sam Philips did change it up as well, at times playing an acoustic guitar, then a very heavily distorted guitar during "I Need Love" or a more moderate electronic guitar during most of the other songs. Speaking of "I Need Love", Sam's new interpretation of this 14-year old song was excellent, a nice new twist on something very familiar. Another surprise was her singing of "Animals On Wheels" when Sam just took a cassette player (think old-school Walkman) and played the instrumental track from that - accompanied by her singing. For some of the vibrato passages she rapidly shook the cassette player, introducing wow/flutter with nice results. Fun to watch and to listen to! Call it a one-woman-Karaoke-show-with-manually-induced-sound-effects but it worked for me :)

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Throughout the evening Ted Reichman stayed in the background, consistently playing away on this accordion and weaving dense tapestries of sound. Here and there he would throw in some unexpected embellishments and demonstrate his skill. Overall he was a great addition even when he didn't have the stage presence of his colleagues and perhaps purposefully chose to stay out of the spotlights.

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In the end a very enjoyable concert with many old favorites (some of them interpreted in delightfully new ways) as well as the songs from Sam's new "Don't Do Anything" album. Great eclectic music well and enthusiastically played to an appreciative audience - what more can you ask for? I look forward to Sam's next concert in the Seattle area!