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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Singer-songwriter has long played blues, country before opening for Slash at Northern Quest

Samantha Fish performs at Kaufleuten Zürich in 2019 in Switzerland. Fish opened for Slash last weekend at Northern Quest Resort & Casino.  (Wikimedia Commons)
By Jordan Tolley-Turner The Spokesman-Review

Hailing from Kansas City, Missouri, Samantha Fish first picked up the guitar at 16 after a few years on the drums. She would soon find her heroes in the grit of old blues legends.

Like many, Fish was drawn to the sounds of the Mississippi Delta. The innovations of artists like R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough are difficult to deny, and early on Fish was entranced by everything the blues and rock had to offer.

“As I was learning to play guitar, I began to really enjoy the blues format and getting to express myself in that open format,” Fish said. “You really have some room to emote and develop a voice, and it has pushed me in the direction that I’ve been careening toward ever since.”

At 19, she began playing locally until her first signing with Ruf Records. Now, at 35, she has spent more than a decade exploring her own sound and fine-tuning with time, although she still prefers her brand of blues rock to be a little rough around the edges.

“I want things to feel raw; I’m not a big fan of polished if I don’t have to be,” Fish said. “I’ve always found myself drawn to that gritty sound.”

Fish has released 12 albums , her most recent being a collaboration record with Jesse Dayton, who is primarily a country artist.

“Death Wish Blues,” the Grammy-nominated record released in May 2023, can be described as “rough and tough” with its fuzz-filled guitars, spunky lyrics and electric yet classic sound. Fish and Dayton’s vocals are the perfect match of powerful and deep, and Fish’s voice might just be the overall highlight with her impressive range and sheer force impossible to ignore.

The idea of a collaboration album is something Fish and her manager have been sitting on for several years, and she had somewhat known Dayton for a number of years, so when she ran across him in New Orleans (where Fish now resides) there was an instant spark.

Initially, Fish had wanted to do something completely different. She wanted to find a partner, wear costumes, go under fake names, and potentially explore a genre like punk rock.

Over time, the two were drawn to the sound Fish is more familiar with (although this concept isn’t off the table for Fish ).

“We started working together and found a common goal and identity for the project; it’s not punk rock and wearing costumes but we had something sort of raw and exaggerated in our minds,” Fish said.

“What we ended up with is something closer to who we are, but it’s still stepping out.”

Fish recently opened for all-time legend Slash on Saturday at Northern Quest Resort & Casino.

Slash released his own blues-focused album, “Orgy of The Damned,” in May, and to say touring with him is more than a dream come true may just be understatement for Fish.

“My inner teenager is incredibly excited; do you know how many times I sat down and tried to dissect ‘Appetite for Destruction’ when I was first learning the guitar?” Fish said, adding, “He’s a guitar legend and somebody I’ve looked up to for years, when I first heard about it I didn’t even think it was real.”

Fish was also looking forward to returning to Spokane. It’s been a number of years since she played here , during one of her early West Coast tours, but her love for Washington remains fresh.

“I like Spokane a lot, it’s a pretty cool place,” Fish said. “There’s really nowhere else in the country that looks like the Pacific Northwest. It’s beautiful.”