PUTNEY >> Brattleboro native Sam Amidon will be performing a solo concert of re-imagined folk songs ("Amidon weaves his own new tunes into worn, weary, seemingly ageless sagas." – NPR) accompanied by banjo and guitar, fiddle tunes, and storytelling Thursday, July 14 at 7:30 p.m. at the newly renovated Next Stage in Putney. Tickets are $20 and $17, are available online at brownpapertickets.com and locally at Everyone's Bookstore, Elliot St. Brattleboro, and the Putney General Store.
Now living in London, Amidon tours the UK, U.S., Europe and Australia with his performances of re-imagined traditional songs from the public domain, as well as the occasional contemporary pop song, rearranged into his own unique and mesmerizing compositions. Blending elements of folk, bluegrass, jazz, Americana and more, Amidon's "highly personal approach opens a window on the American past and lets us feel it like nothing else around." (NPR).
Sam Amidon was raised by Brattleboro folk musicians/singers Peter and Mary Alice Amidon with whom he toured and performed (along with brother Stefan) through his childhood and youth. He first garnered national attention as a fiddler in his collaboration with his brother Stefan and friend Thomas Bartlett in their cutting-edge teen contra dance band "Popcorn Behavior" (later joined by Keith Murphy). During and after college Amidon studied and explored free jazz in New York City, studying privately with the iconic free-jazz fiddler Leroy Jenkens, and playing and performing in the city free jazz scene.
These threads came together in 2007 in the release of Amidon's first album of re-imagined and recomposed folk songs, "But This Chicken Proved Falsehearted," followed quickly by "All Is Well," which was recorded in Iceland featuring arrangements by composer Nico Muhly.
Here is legendary jazz guitarist Bill Frisell recalling his reaction to hearing 'All Is Well' for the first time: "I had a rental car and it was four in the morning. I was somewhere in Pennsylvania, and it was foggy and dark and I'm all by myself. I said 'Oh I gotta check this out' and I took Sam's CD, it didn't even have a label, and I stuck it in and it was like, woah, it blew my mind. Because it was a lot of songs that I knew, these old, old traditional songs, folk songs, but it was like I was hearing them through this completely different lens. We started talking more and more, and eventually we started playing together."
Sam Amidon released his fifth solo album, "Lily-O," in 2014, recorded in Iceland with Bill Frisell and released on Nonesuch Records. Amidon sings and plays banjo, fiddle, and acoustic guitar on the album.
Writing about Amidon's previous record Bright Sunny South, Pitchfork says that "Amidon not only has an impressively deep knowledge of traditional song forms, but takes liberties with the country's past in order to document his own personal present." That album follows 2010's I See The Sign and 2008's All Is Well, collections of re-worked folk songs recorded with the Icelandic label / collective Bedroom Community and featuring orchestral arrangements by Nico Muhly. About I See The Sign, The New York Times wrote that Amidon "transforms all of the songs, changing their colors and loading them with trapdoors."
In addition to his solo albums, Amidon has frequently collaborated with Nico Muhly, Doveman, Beth Orton, and Bill Frisell; and he has recently appeared as a guest on albums by Tune-Yards, Aoife O'Donovan, Glen Hansard, and The Blind Boys of Alabama.