Minglewood Hall/ - Memphis, Tennessee April 6, 2012
The Basement Nashville, Tennessee April 7, 2012
Your Science Prevents Me
Woman You Crazy
That's How Strong My Love Is
Not Your Kind
Too Far Gone
In order to give these shows proper reviews, I have to rewind, and go back to the beginning…where all of this began…so you can understand. April 22, 2009 at 3rd & Lindsley in Nashville changed my life forever. I didn't know who I was going to see; I didn't know any of the music. But I went, because I'm from Nashville, and music is tangled into every fiber of my being. I knew it would be good - I had a feeling, the feeling that can only come when you know where great music lives and breathes. In Nashville in particular, it's the little venues off of Lower Broad and beyond, the ones most tourists have no idea exist. At 3rd & Lindsley, you see true talent shine. They're not there to impress, or wow you with a light show that bolsters what talent they do have. Instead, all they have to rely on is a guitar and a song. What I saw that night was magical…raw, earnest talent that you rarely see anymore. A musician, overwhelmed at the sudden attention being thrust at him, but humbled by it nonetheless. He seemed to open up his mouth, let the lyrics flow, and they wafted straight into my soul. It may sound flowery - and if you know me, you know I'm anything but flowery - but it's the truth. I was hooked from that very moment. Even now, three years later (has it really been that long?), I make no excuses for how excited I am to see this man again. There is not an ounce of shame inside me. Why? Because it's Sam.
If you're new to Sam Bradley's music, I warn you now that once you see a show, you'll be hooked. It's like he opens the door to his living room, and invites you in to stay a while. You can imagine the stage is his sofa, the guitar sitting in his lap, as he lazily strums the strings and cracks jokes, making you shake with laughter. And when he plays, the music enraptures you, and he speaks to you through his lyrics, like you're going through whatever he went through in order to write the song…like you're going through it with him. Not many artists these days do that, at least not to me. Amos Lee does it. Patty Griffin does it. And Sam does it.
The last time I saw Sam play, I was wheelchair-bound in Louisville, watching him open for Jenny Owens Young at Zanzabar. I was three weeks out from a very serious surgery, and desperate for one single, solitary happy moment…something to encourage me to keep fighting, keep going. And Sam did that. Through his music, yes, but also his amazing, genuine, and loving character. He has the biggest heart, and he truly is one-of-a-kind. I'll be forever grateful to him for that night, and everything he did for me. And even now, when I have weak moments and think I'm going to give up, that I can't take any more pain, or hurt, or heartbreak, I remember that night, and the feeling of being able to conquer anything. It renews me.
I don't know the number of shows I've seen - it's probably a ridiculous amount - but I still get excited each and every time, when he welcomes me into his world, and plays just for me.
He's on tour with Marcus Foster right now, an artist I hadn't listened to previously. I'll admit it - I'm a Sam girl. It's hard to steal my focus away from him (sorry, he got there first, fellas). However, I was excited to have the chance to hear new music, and well, see Sam, too. I went to two shows - Memphis, and then my hometown of Nashville. I have a four-hour rule. If I can get there within four hours (flying or driving), I may just pop up at a show. Otherwise, I feel like a stalker. But that's just me. I'd never seen Sam play in Memphis, and to my knowledge, he never had previously.
Though he was tired after a long drive from Dallas the previous night, he still strived to play a great show - honest singing, great stage presence. He may not have been as funny as I've seen him before (can we say Camembert lady?) but he still held my attention, playing some old songs (Otis Redding's "That's How Strong My Love Is," "Passport"), his most famous tune ("Too Far Gone") his latest songs ("Woman You Crazy" and the beautiful, heart-wrenching "Not Your Kind"), and then a handful of others (a song he wrote with his mother, Lee Lindsey "Little Sister," as well as "Your Silence Prevents Me," and his Nashville-penned tune "Details"). After the show, he gave of himself like he always does, talking to each and every person in attendance, taking pictures, goofing off with them…doing whatever it took to make it a special night not only for them, but for himself as well.
Then it was back to Nashville after a quick stop for fried chicken and mashed potatoes (I needed fuel for the Nashville party, come on). Sam enjoys riling me up, and I've come by his nickname for me quite honestly, Sassy. As soon as I got to the venue, he sassed me and I sassed him right back, but I could tell he was rested, and if he was willing to give me hell, then it was going to be a great show.
And again, he didn't disappoint. Just as I suspected, his humor was back in place, and he warned the audience that he'd had barbeque in Memphis and in Nashville, and that the show was going to be quite "porky." Before he sang "Passport," he told an abbreviated version of his hilarious Camembert woman story, and then came up with a decent excuse for not playing my personal favorite "Scared." Apparently, he'd broken his "C" string, so he was granted a reprieve. The set list was the same as Memphis, with no variations, but it was still like seeing a brand new show, despite having seen him perform the previous night.
And then, just like Sam does, he gave of himself again and again and again and again. He talked to me about my life, and then about nonsense, and sometimes he offered little gems about his life. It felt like I was talking to a really good friend. And for me, personally, he is my friend. He made sure everyone in the room had their moment with him, and that they left feeling special and adored. But really, he's the one who is so adored. You can't help it. It's Sam.
Show Reporter: Rachel @SaassyyRachel