This past Saturday night I experienced the live solo performance of singer-songwriter Sam Weber. An experience it was indeed.
Sam Weber’s music has been on my playlist for the last year. I caught wind of his sound through some of his friends and fellow artists who have played up this way and name him among their top recommendations.
Upon the re-release of his debut album “Shadows In The Road,” word came through that he was booked to play our local venue as part of his fall tour and my anticipation has been building ever since. I was intrigued to say the least at what his live performance would reveal, but I was also a bit nervous. His sound has this honest quality to it that I was immediately drawn to, but his artistic brand is often marketed in a way that suggests a certain intensity. I was completely prepared to face a somewhat guarded, brooding individual, but any inclinations of him being at all withdrawn immediately dissolved as he greeted me with a friendly boyish smile and a sincere warmth of heart in the quaint home setting of Serenity Performing Arts Centre. This is why live music is so important; to feel the energy of an artist in the flesh is something you cannot recreate on an album, in a video, photo shoot or written article. You can see, hear and feel glimpses, but there is nothing comparable to the real thing.
The evening’s torrential rain and dense fog influenced the relatively small crowd at our remote venue tucked away down an unlit dirt road. However, everyone in the audience was genuinely interested in the music that Sam had come to share. Within the first few seconds of his opening song, there was no question we were in for something incredibly special.
Not that this came as much of a surprise. His mounting accolades include a scholarship to the Berklee College of Music, a feature in Guitar Player magazine, an honourable mention in the 2013 International Songwriting Competition, and being signed to Cordova Bay Records…just to name a few. Sam Weber has also been producing a steady stream of up and coming independent artists who are turning to him for his impeccable ear to help them develop their own sound and unique quality, a feat he has been able to achieve for himself.
After the show I told Sam I had never seen someone perform their music in such a kinesthetic way. It was captivating. To see an artist be so completely in his music where the expressions on his face and every movement in his body communicated nuances in each song was mesmerizing to behold. It was emotional and moving and at times jarring. There was no disconnect between him and his music. It was one of the realest performances I have ever seen; real as in there wasn’t any performance at all, just pure communication and connection. Amid his intricately crafted songs, Sam shared his light-hearted spirit with the audience, showcasing his sweet personality through brief anecdotes and stories that created a perfect balance of energy on stage.
Born in the early 90’s, Sam is part of the latter Generation Y who bring a perspective our world has yet to experience; the first young adults of our time who have spent their entire existence immersed in the information highway, with answers to anything at the click of a button, and whose youth is synonymous with a rapid acceleration of technological devices that connect them (or disconnect them depending on how you look at it) with others in a myriad of ways. Having spent time with a growing number of artists from this demographic, I can tell you despite what mass media tragically chooses to highlight, the future is promising. Not only does Sam represent a growing number of socially conscious young minds, but he is also someone who is able to rationalize and dissect the difference between what is real and what is not when it comes to the smoke and mirrors of the music industry. At 22 years old, he is savvy, bright, intuitive, endearing, and genuine. As part of this first wave era his perspective is highly evolved when it comes to his approach to making music. Sam simply relates that because there is the ability to easily edit anything and everything at their fingertips, many in his generation are starting to reject the very technology they have been raised to epitomize. How’s that for perfect irony among today’s youth. A philosophy of integrity, honesty and exercising a meaningful artistic voice is reflective in every aspect of Sam’s work, including his songwriting, musicianship and performance style.
Citing his major musical influences as Joni Mitchell and Bruce Springsteen, it is highly apparent that he has a strong commitment to creating authenticity in his music that he can represent on stage.
Putting his own stamp on boldly chosen covers including Fleetwood Mac’s “Say You Love Me” and a rare rendition of esteemed Canadian producer Daniel Lanois’ “The Maker,” he made clear statements about his songwriting taste and the range of styles he can comfortably navigate.
Sharing that he is constantly writing and has high volumes of songs ready to share with audiences, he admits promoting an album on tour can be challenging when he is eager to perform new material over songs written and recorded in months and years past. Although the average record company may prefer artists stick close to their album’s content, no audience anywhere is going to mind hearing the variety of crafted tunes he is capable of performing on any given night.
Inducing feelings of passion, self-reflection, resolve and the pursuit of happiness, Sam Weber’s essence filled the Serenity living room and provided something for everyone to stew over. From a widowed emergency response worker putting her feet up for the first time in weeks, to a husband and wife who are full time working parents sharing tender affection throughout the show, the moments he created were immeasurable in their importance.
When it comes right down to it, Sam Weber is a deeply inspired songwriter and musician whose music resonates with the mind, body and soul. To steal a quote from fellow west coast artist Rolla Olak, “Dude has the muse somethin’ fierce.” Enough said.
Album highlights: “Right-Hearted,” his show opener that captures his life on the road and heartfelt sentiments; “August,” the album’s first single with an intro hook that sticks in your head for days and a stunningly beautiful tone from start to finish; and “Burn Out,” a song that sounds like a simple introspection upon first listen, yet after subsequent plays reveals a more complicated commentary on the mutual struggles of the human condition. To add one more for good measure, his live performance of “Don’t Hurt” brought me to tears, so naturally it’s my new favourite track.
Sam Weber performed at Serenity Performing Arts Centre on November 8, 2014.
He will be touring throughout BC until early December. Check out his homepage http://www.samweber.me for show dates, links to album downloads, social media feeds and more.
Joining him on tour is the enchanting songstress Kirsten Ludwig. We had the pleasure of enjoying her company, however we were not one of the shows where she was slated to perform. If you plan to be at one where she is, count yourself lucky. http://www.kirstenludwigmusic.com