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Sam Sherwin

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Sam Sherwin from 2012
MSJ:

Can you catch the readers up on the history of your involvement in music?

First off, I really want to thank you for the opportunity to musically yap about myself. I think I can really trace my first hint of love for music as a youngster being around one of Miami Steve Van Zandt's favorite 1960s Garage bands, Richard Tepp of Richard and The Young Lions. Tepp was dating my older sister at the time and he just seemed so cool to me. I actually became friends with Young Lions drummer named “Twig” who encouraged me to follow the music.

And then through an endless parade of High School bands and performing cover material in clubs, parties, and so on...I started to hit my stride and find my musical voice in New York City in the early 1990s with my own band called “Something Sam.” It was me, a guy on bass and four girls and we kicked ass. Doing once a month at the reconstituted Lone Star Cafe in Midtown Manhattan, The China Club, CBGB's Don Hills, The Bitter End, and a bunch of mid-tier clubs, getting some good press opening for acts such as, Steve Forbert, Nona Hendrix, Jill Sobule, The Replacements, Grant Green Jr, and so on.

I married a filmmaker from Japan and slowed down for a few years. By 2001 the marriage was kaput.and I was back writing and performing music. At this point I hooked up with Richie Havens producer Randy Crafton and since recorded 2 CDs with him, Dirty Little Secrets and Iodine Cocktails.

I've since been lucky enough to surround myself with some of the finest musicians in New York City. Jeff Beck bassist Wilbur Bascomb and Dido bassist Keith Golden are playing on my records as is Richie Havens guitarist Walter Parks.and some other great session players. My live act consists of Antigone Rising drummer Dena Tauriello, Garland Jefferys and Dayna Kurtz pianist Peter Vitalone, Bernie Worrell bassist Donna "Lady Bass" McPherson and solo vocalist/guitarist Janet LaBelle. Lucky me and Peter get to perform with these "killer" gals....It's a great lineup.

MSJ:

If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?

That's a bit of a tough one, but to be honest years ago I was involved in the fashion industry doing sales in some hip upscale stores and working for some manufacturers. I really dug it and had a great time...Not to mention some of the most beautiful women you could run across. So, if music was not in my life, guess I could live with fashion.

MSJ:

Who would you see as your musical influences?

“That's correct!

Music Street  Journal: Who???

Yes!!

Music Street  Journal: Who???

Yes, That's what I said! ( The old Abbott & Costello routine)” Ha

It was The Who and the English Invasion of the 60s that influenced my playing and writing. Especially Ray Davies of The Kinks whom I met a couple times - areal thrill to have a beer with him and talk music. As I got a bit older I really started to appreciate The Beatles and Bob Dylan and much more. They are the template for my song writing. When I approach a song I stride to write a Dylan or Beatles tune. Not in the actual sound of these artists, but for the staying power of the song - something that sounds fresh years after it's written.

MSJ:

What's ahead for you?

Whoa....How about more gigs, band travel to Europe, better venues, major management, and good health to all involved...That be nice.

MSJ:

I know many artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labeled, but how would you describe your music?

Mmmm?? How about Power Pop Rock, sprinkled with some Rhythm and Blues Americana with a dash of British filling?

MSJ:

.Are there musicians with whom you would like to play with in the future?

Now that's a loaded question, Ha! That list could be endless. But in real time, I am looking forward to doing some live shows in Manhattan with Wilbur Bascomb. He's into it and if schedules work out it will happen. And because I share the same music lawyer with Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor there's a real good chance of us working together in the future...And Wilbur used to tour with Mick and Bernard Purdie on drums. Purdie might be in the cards too. Peter Vitalone plays with him as my lawyer reps Purdie, too.

MSJ:

Do you think that illegal downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?

It's a double edged sword. The music industry has done everything to really screw themselves and gum up the works for everyone involved. Technology and the Net have given the tools to most young listeners who were priced out of buying your product to snag music for free without the tangible holding and reading and owning a CD. This is something the new generation can live with. Collectors and oldies like myself still cling to our old habits of hoarding musical materials. Right now, I'm not wealthy from my music so if it's ripped it's not affecting me so much. But if this means more young'ins and others get exposed to my material, maybe that will help down the line. It's all still uncharted water...

MSJ:

In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them?

Again, if it helps me get more exposure down the line...I ain't the Music Police. Let it play on.

MSJ:

If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?

Geez, this is sounding like a musical Freudian session ...I kinda have an affinity for Ironman. So my arch nemesis would have to be Rusty Day (Vocalist with the band Cactus) Why? I think that's obvious.

MSJ:

If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you'd like to hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?

You’re really putting my brain to the test, huh? Ha... Let's get the ol' Jeff Beck from the late 60s on guitar. Jeff is my fave, but especially from this era. Ron Wood on bass. I think he was a much more clever bassist than guitarist. And three original members of Procol Harum, Gary Brooker on killer vocals and piano, Matthew Fisher on B3 and B.J. Wilson on drums. Wilson along with Keith Moon were two of the most amazing drummers I'd ever seen live. Anyways, let them do some heavy rock/blues and call themselves Beck's Harum...

MSJ:

If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?

Well let's not make too big of a festival and let's have The Sam Sherwin Band open the show. Followed by John Mayall and Friends (whoever he can dig up) then on to the surviving members of Free, Paul Rogers, Andy Fraser, Simone Kirk, and guest guitarist Mick Taylor. on to headliners The Rolling Stones with a whollop of an ending with all the musicians taking the stage for “You Can't Always Get What You Want,” “Time Waits For No One,” and “Sympathy for The Devil”...Now that would be a closer kicker!

MSJ:

What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?

An older CD called “Details” from the British duo of Frou Frou. A little keyboard heavy but some incredible melodies and hooks. Just some really nice head music. And Dusty Springfield's Greatest Hits...Man the production on these tunes and her voice is bumbin'!

MSJ:

Have you read any good books lately?

I recently read a book of short stories by Robert E. Howard. He was the author of the sword and sorcery Conan the Barbarian novels. But he also wrote supernatural tales which I'm really into. Steven King called Howard's short story “Pigeons From Hell,” "One of the finest horror stories of our century.” And who am I to disagree with King? You can also hear a reference to this story in Chrissie Hynde's “Back on The Chain Gang” Pretenders song. Really good stuff...

MSJ:

What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?

The last live show I saw was Mick Taylor, Wilbur Bascomb, Bernard Purdie, Max Middleton, and Hamish Stewart at The Iridum in New York City. The show was alright. I really expected more from Taylor and Middleton who in all honesty were not up to snuff. But the rhythm section was rippin'.

MSJ:

Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”

Frank Sinatra from the Paramount years and with Nelson Riddle. Popsicles and pistachios...

MSJ:

What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?

Having an affair with a female vocalist in my band and ending the relationship live on stage during a show in Manhattan. Boy was that ugly....

MSJ:

If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?

A hero of mine, comedian Sidney Fields. The landlord on The Abbott & Costello Show. I met him briefly when I was eight years old and it was a high point in my life...Funny, funny guy hardly anyone knows of. John Lennon. I want to pick his brain and unvarnished thoughts about music and songwriting. And I think he'd enjoy Sid Fields’ company too! And last but not least Portuguese actress and popstar/songwriter Lúcia Moniz. She was in the film Love Actually acting opposite Colin Firth. We've actually become friends and fan's of each other’s work. She's written some very cool complimentary things about my songs on my website. And if I were to marry again, I'd love to marry her! (~Sigh~) Can you tell I got a crush on her?

MSJ:

What would be on the menu?

Shrimp cocktail, thin crusted pizza, and Buffalo wings. And popsicles for dessert.

MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?

Again Gary, I just want to thank you so much for the opportunity to delve into my musical dark with your readers and just give a bit of insight of who and what I am. This has been a real blast...and to your readers and perhaps any future fans of mine, please just checkout my website at http://www.samsherwin.net.There's some great reading, pics, and links and most importantly you can listen to all ten cuts of my latest CD Iodine Cocktails. I really think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.
 
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