by J. Scott Rees
The Western Maryland Blues Fest is held every year in rural Hagerstown, MD over the weekend following Memorial Day. When Women In Rock discovered up-and-coming young superstar Samantha Fish would be performing at this 19th annual event, we hauled ourselves over there to catch her show.
It was a warm, sunny day at the outdoor venue with a large crowd in attendance. At 3pm, Fish took the stage for her 1-hour set wearing a short silver skirt and sunglasses. Her fans obviously knew what to expect, as many forsook the audience chairs to stand front and center. From the driving beat of her first number, “Lay it Down”, they knew they were in for a solid performance.
“Foolin’ Me” was next with an impressive lead guitar solo. Fish makes it look easy and effortless. Her follow-up to this was “Go to Hell”, a self-described love song (well, maybe not). By the time “Gone for Good” was finished everyone had really loosened up, the sunglasses came off, and Fish was one with the crowd.
“Sucker Born” was another song from her newest album, Black Wind Howlin’. The strong and deliberate beats on this album make people want to stop what they’re doing to listen, and this track is no exception. The crowd moved as one as Fish bounced her head to the beat and tossed her hair front to back. She seems to love playing to the audience.
Then came a Screamin’ Jay Hawkins cover tune, “I Put a Spell on You”. This was slow and sultry. Fish’s sustained vocals contrasted nicely with the complex notes of her guitar. The mellow mood took the crowd to another place as they swayed to the rhythm. The spell was on everyone.
By the end of her set the audience was on their feet in standing ovation. They dutifully called for an encore and Fish answered with Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs”—an obvious departure, but a popular crowd-pleaser nonetheless. With gratuitous audience participation, the band rocked it out to yet another standing ovation. This young woman has what it takes to make a big impression.
Lay it down, Samantha.