Folk Yeah!

Folk Artist Samamidon is Making the Old New Again

  • Samamidon embarks on his first solo tour. Photo Samantha West

Known for his impressive re-imaginings of traditional American folk songs and hymns, Sam Amidon—or samamidon, as he’s known onstage—is keeping the folk legacy alive and bringing it to Montreal.

Known for his impressive re-imaginings of traditional American folk songs and hymns, Sam Amidon—or samamidon, as he’s known onstage—is keeping the folk legacy alive and bringing it to Montreal.

Resembling the music of folk legends, Amidon’s work is rich with stories and imagery. His interpretations of old folk classics feel relaxed, intimate and ambitious.

Growing up in the small town of Brattleboro, Vt., Amidon learned to sing and play the fiddle at an early age, later adding the guitar and banjo to his flock of instruments. No stranger to the folk music scene, his parents Peter and Mary Alice Amidon are notable Vermont folk singers in their own right and traditional music educators.

Moving beyond Vermont, he now calls New York City home after living there for the past decade.

“The mess of [New York City] is amazing. You can pass through all this different music in different communities and really feel like you are passing through these many worlds in one night,” he said.

Contributing to a number of independent music projects—including Doveman, Assembly and Stars Like Fleas—Amidon is setting off on his first solo North American tour in support of his recent release I See The Sign.

“I am taking the Amtrak train from New York to Montreal,” said Amidon. “I can’t wait!”

Prepared for long hours alone and on the road, Amidon doesn’t plan on staring wistfully out the window at the scenery whirring past; he has work to do.

“I have a show coming up at The Kitchen, [a performance art-based gallery] in New York, and am plotting for that. I’m going to be working on a fiddle lecture and power point presentation,” he said. “I also have The Decline of the Roman Empire as a book on my iPod.”

The recently released I See The Sign is Amidon’s third major album, produced on the Icelandic music label Bedroom Community. He believes the product is proof of a development in his musical poise.

“I think [I See The Sign] ended up being more broke and dense in texture,” he said. “Part of that was more confidence on my part.”

This is his second release with Bedroom Community, a label based on the outskirts of Reykjavik.

“With my first release, All is Well, I went [to the recording studio in Iceland] alone and a little scared. The volcanic rock and a certain kind of light makes you feel like you’re on the moon,” he explained.

“It’s an amazing place to bring ideas,” he added. “There is so much clarity to everything there, clarity and openness.

“By the time I recorded I See The Sign, going to Iceland had become very comfortable,” he explained.

“I felt a little more involved throughout the process of this record and I think the result is a little more broad and playful.”

I See The Sign looks to the past for inspiration and brings it to the here and now. Amidon is happy playing the in-between.

Samamidon plays with Winchester Warm at Il Motore on Friday, Sept. 3. Show begins at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $14 at the door.

This article originally appeared in The Link Volume 31, Issue 03, published August 31, 2010.

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