SAM AMIDON

Oct 24 2013 19:30 - 21:30

Takk Coffee House, 6 Tariff Street, M1 2FF Manchester

While in his early 20s, Sam Amidon moved to New York City to pursue a growing passion for free jazz, which had begun to capture his imagination as a teenager (he will expound enthusiastically, at some length, on the myriad connections between free jazz improvisation and old-time fiddle playing). He studied with violinist Leroy Jenkins and played with various after-hours combos but earned money fiddling at Irish pub sessions. Deciding to teach himself to play guitar so he could get hired for studio session work and maybe figure out how to write his own songs, Amidon found himself drawn back to the folk music of his youth: 'I wrote some guitar riffs and I started learning folk songs as a way of learning guitar, and then I started changing them around,' he smiles. 'And I just got stuck at that stage.'

Amidon began to incorporate storytelling and elements of movement, particularly a kind of intense 'liturgical' dancing, into his shows. He has appeared at experimental venues like Chelsea’s The Kitchen, collaborated on performances pieces with musical polymath Nico Muhly, and toured as part of Thomas Bartlett’s group Doveman. Most recently, he embarked on a series of live shows with the similar-minded guitarist Bill Frisel.

'I moved to New York to get away from folk music and to start playing the music that I was listening to. To try improvising, to play in rock bands, whatever... and now what I do largely is these folk tunes. I guess, partly, that singing these songs was just comforting. You’re new to New York, you’re singing these lonesome tunes, it feels good. But, at the same time, you have to pay attention to what people respond to. You have to find what’s meaningful to you, and you find out what that is by being with friends. I found that this is what I could bring to the table, to other musicians, to Nico, to Thomas, to Bill Frisell, all these collaborations. The element I can bring that is meaningful for a musical dialogue has been folk songs.'

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