Sunset Concerts 2015: Sam Lee Both Parts of the Singer/songwriter Genre

Sam Lee loves a crowd, and he’s ready for us all to have a good time together. As part of the Sunset
K. Brattin
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Sam Lee loves a crowd, and he’s ready for us all to have a good time together. As part of the Sunset Concert series, Lee will play original rock music and covers with his Nashville band Thursday, July 9 at Turley Park in Carbondale.

A singer/songwriter who grew up in Colorado, Lee began his professional musical career out west almost a decade ago as a college freshman, performing in local bars. Feeling a change was due after completing his first two albums in Denver, he made the big move to Nashville, a city he says is “known as a place where an artist can find their way.” Though he is based in Tennessee, he has appeared at venues all around the country.

Lee is an entertainer who enjoys playing in front of an audience— the larger the better. “I love bigger crowds,” he says. After all, he points out, at a venue like the Sunset Concerts, “everyone is there to have a good time— I don’t have to convince them.” In fact, he says, “I get more comfortable the larger the group of people I’m playing for. There’s some solidarity there.” He enjoys varying his set, playing both original material and covers, which he sees as a unique opportunity. Putting his own spin on a song that’s familiar to the crowd is “a really cool way to tie a brand-new audience into what I do.”

Known for his strong, melodic voice as well as his catchy lyrics, both parts of the “singer/songwriter” genre are important to Lee. Always singing along with the radio as a child, he first turned his attention to learning musical instruments— he plays three now— in order to build a home for his voice. Now he views meaning-finding to be synchronous with sound. Singing and songwriting are equal parts of an artistic process, building upon each other. “When I write a tune, I never really feel it until I’m singing it,” he explains. Lee spent his early career working collaboratively on songs, which he says helped him solidify who he is as a creator, but he now writes much of his material alone.

During his two years in Music City, Lee made about a dozen music videos and has recently completed an EP, which is due to be released in the fall. To give the new songs energy, he recorded them live with a band in the studio. He’s distanced himself a bit from the bombastic classic-rock sound of his last full-length album, focusing instead on the soul, funk, and blues roots of the music he loves. “If you looked at my music collection,” Lee laughingly told Nightlife, “almost everyone in there would be dead,” yet the music he’s making now is of-the-moment in its fusion of genres— or as his producer terms it, its “mono-genre” sound. Lee points out that these days, pop, country, and rock all influence each other to such an extent that genre divisions sometimes feel superfluous. Lee feels good about his new material. “The more records an artist creates,” he says, “the closer they get to their center.”

who: Sam Lee

what: Sunset Concerts (original rock)

where: Turley Park Gazebo


when: Thursday, July 9