“I am desperate, as of lately for it hasn’t been my year and the life that I’m living brings me no sense of cheer “
Sam Stuckey is a Pittsburgh based Roots, Progressive Bluegrass, and Country music artist and singer/songwriter. His blending of guitar picking styles complements his higher, rustic bluegrass harmony as evidenced on his debut EP from earlier in 2020 entitled Euphoric Premier. I want to thank Sam (Acoustic Guitar/Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.
The first album you ever bought?
Oh, gosh! I’m not sure I can even think back that far! Well, if I had to guess, it was probably an early Pink Floyd record – I used to eat that stuff up when I was younger. I loved everything about the arrangements, they lyric writing, the emotion in every beat – it’s really great stuff. What’s even more impressive, and what puts them above the rest for me, is the idea that each album they produced was different, while still maintaining the sound they were going for. For example, when you listen to The Wall front to back, you can feel this… subconscious tone throughout-this deep, dark, sad feeling in the tunes, in the lyrics, etc. However, take something like The Final Cut from their later years, and that same sort of feeling is there, BUT the arrangements, the presentation, the delivery – is completely different. When you, as an artist, can keep your fans engaged and entertained in your music, while still stretching the boundaries with the creativity of it, and still keep a hold of your sound, that really says something.
Your last album bought?
That’s an interesting question. I, like the millions of other millennials, grew up not having to “buy records.” Everything now is at the tips of your fingers on your phone or computer. Apart of me wishes it wasn’t like that, but that’s a whole other conversation. I’m not sure I remember the last one I bought, but the last one I listened to front to back was The Folkways Recordings of Doc Watson & Clarence Ashby: 1960-1962. It’s a collection of snippets from recording sessions and live shows in the 60s when Doc and Clarence played together – a mix of bluegrass and old-time, where each would take the spotlight, and they would share tunes between themselves, and with a backing band. It’s really neat stuff. I came upon it when I heard Billy Strings play a song called “Maggie Walker.” Of all the famous gals in bluegrass, I’d never heard that name before. So, I begin investigating, and found this record almost immediately. It’s so funny to listen to this stuff-there’s so much crossover in lyrical content. It’s like some guy listened to his buddy play a song he wrote, and then the guy goes “Dang, that was really good. Now I gotta go write something similar, so that I can use that line somewhere!” Before ya know it, there’s one particular lyric that can be sung into 20 or 30 different songs at the drop of a hat.
Favorite album of all time?
My favorite album right now is Alison Krauss & Union Station’s Everytime You Say Goodbye. The 90s for that group was stellar. I’ve always been a huge fan of Alison and her musical career, particularly with this arrangement. A lot of what I do is derived from this album – a nice blend of meaty traditional bluegrass, but with a progressive flare that keeps you wanting more. She hit it right on the button-no wonder she’s the most prized Grammy winner of all time.
Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Not really sure. I think that most of the music I’ve listened to has something great about it. Anyone who is really dedicated to music won’t record and release something that is subpar – musicians are crazy like that.
First concert attended?
I was a single digit age (not sure when) and my sister and cousins wanted to see The Backstreet Boys in concert. All I really remember from that show was how the band got on stage – it was a dark blue stage, and all you could see was the band fly in from the opposite side of the stadium dome, on individual glowing surfboards – I thought that was really weird. What’s even funnier is that when they got to the stage, there were men that had to help them off of their boards, so they didn’t break an ankle or something. 😂
It might have been DelFest 2019 – got to see Del McCoury, Billy Strings, Ricky Skaggs, and a bunch of other heavy hitters. I also got my band scramble band on both the main stage and the Potomac Stage for winning at The Academy.
Favorite concert ever?
I’ve got two – first, I got to see Roger Waters perform The Wall in its entirety when I was a senior in high school. If you want to see an all-encompassing entertainment show, that’s the one people should see-flying pigs, blow-up puppets on stage, the light show is extraordinary, and of course, the GIANT wall on the front of the stage, covering the band-like, who comes up with that stuff. The other was a whim show – I came back from college one weekend, and my dad and I got handicap tickets to see Jackson Browne at the Palace Theater in Greensburg. My favorite solo artist show – Jackson knows how to write a song and play it on the piano or guitar. Wow.
Least favorite concert?
Not sure. If you count some of the open mics I’ve been to as concerts, then maybe I could tell you about one, but I like to get my performers before I go see them live.
Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
So far, Pittsburgh has been really good to me. Especially for not being a heavy bluegrass town. One of my favorite experiences was with my first band I was a part of, Well Strung. First gig I was booked for was a corporate event, and who did we open up for? Bluegrass legend and Pittsburgh native Mac Martin. After we played our set, he came over to our table and asked, “So, you boys call that bluegrass?” We all laughed. We knew it wasn’t bluegrass in the traditional sense, but music does have to evolve, and I think Mac realized that.
Thanks, Sam. So great to hear your perception of Pink Floyd. I love them as well and you can hear a common thread throughout their catalogue while at the same time each album having a concentrated difference and growth.
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