Sam Amidon • May 2, 2019


Thursday May 2, 2019
Doors 7:00PM, Show 8:00PM
Tickets: $15 (+SC) adv., $18 doors • 19+

The Following Mountain, Sam Amidon’s sixth album overall and his third for Nonesuch Records, is his first album of original songs. A deeply personal synthesis of folk-based song form and experimental improvisation, it “feels like a liberation” (Uncut) and “provides constant, jolting surprises” (The Guardian). But in his decade-long career as a recording and touring musician, the singer and multi-instrumentalist (banjo, guitar, fiddle) has always managed to create work that’s utterly original, even when, as on previous discs, he was digging through the sounds and stories of traditional American music. The Following Mountain features appearances by musicians such as Shahzad Ismaily, master percussionists Milford Graves and Juma Sultan, and psychedelic jazz musician Sam Gendel.

Prior to The Following Mountain, Amidon released five solo albums on the Bedroom Community and Nonesuch labels. Amidon’s material for these albums consists primarily of reworkings of traditional American ballads, hymns and work songs, with the New York Times writing that Amidon “transforms all of the songs, changing their colors and loading them with trapdoors.” The albums have been deeply collaborative in nature, inviting contributions from musicians such as composer Nico Muhly, guitarist Bill Frisell, producer Thomas Bartlett, and improviser Shahzad Ismaily among others. Amidon has also recorded or performed as a guest artist with groups such as Kronos Quartet, Jason Moran, Bon Iver, Tune-Yards, and Amidon’s wife, the singer-songwriter Beth Orton.

Watch: “Warren” + “Juma Mountain” + “Another Story Told

Praise for Sam Amidon:

“Mr. Amidon approaches folk like a jazz improviser, taking a tune from here, borrowing a lyric from there, and reframing them all with his own surprising chord progressions and arrangements.… Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Sam Amidon: spokesman for the new, weird America.” —New York Observer 

“Rare for someone his age, he knows where a lot of old folk songs come from, what they can accomplish and how they might be revised.… Playing guitar or banjo as he sings, he transforms all of them, changing their colors and loading them with trapdoors.” – The New York Times

“The Following Mountain does more than reverse-engineer Amidon’s past approach of reimagining folk songs. It pushes through the known quantities and traditions of folk music and comes out the other side transformed. It is the destination, the culmination of Amidon’s musical conversations thus far.” – Aquarium Drunkard

“The music is jazzy and percussive, bowing beneath him softly like a sunset and carrying him to a place where he sounds at ease —like this is where all those years of wandering have led him.” – Pitchfork

“…surreal and magical.” – Esquire

“Inventive musical excursions.” – Mojo

“Amidon’s first album of original songs feels like a liberation.” – Uncut

“… his highly personal approach opens a window on the American past and lets us feel it like nothing else around.” – NPR All Things Considered

“The Following Mountain is his first album of largely original compositions, and it provides constant, jolting surprises.” – The Guardian

“…the quantity of Sam’s work is only outpaced by its astonishing quality. He admitted to me once that he thinks he’s an awful songwriter, which is probably part of why his solo work consists of reworkings of (mostly) traditional music… but once you’ve heard what he can do with old songs of love, God, and murder, it’s hard to doubt the man’s talent.” – Pop Matters

“In Amidon’s hands, old American songs live and breathe, proving that sometimes irreverence is the best path to faithfulness.” – NOW Magazine