Posted by: noellebailey | July 2, 2009

REVIEW: Sam Bradley @ Uncle Pleasant’s – 6/29

Monday night I headed out to Uncle Pleasant’s to catch a rather unique show. Here at Backseat Sandbar we don’t often attend shows of bands like Thriving Ivory unless there are exceptional circumstances.  In this case one of my favorite musicians, Sam Bradley, was making his Louisville debut as one of the opening acts, so it was obligatory that I go.  I won’t spend much time talking about the headlining band and will only pause to say that they were actually worse than I expected.  I think my eardrums may have bled a little.

On a more positive note I was introduced to a fantastic band hailing all the way from Toronto.  Pilot Speed (formerly Pilate), comprised of Todd Clark, Chris Greenhough, Ruby Bumrah and Bill Keeley, first signed on with Canada’s renowned MapleMusic Records (the same label that distributed Radiohead’s “In Rainbows” in Canada and whose current clients include Tegan and Sara and Rufus Wainwright). They have since re-released their second album, re-named “Into The West”, in the U.S. via Wind-up Records.  Since the re-release they have gained more notoriety on a global level and in April of this year they released their third album, “Wooden Bones”.  They’ve been compared to the likes of Radiohead, and while I can see the resemblance, Pilot Speed’s new album is definitely “poppier”; although they seem to admit as much.  As I didn’t know any of their songs prior to their set on Monday, I can’t give a well informed play by play, but I do recommend checking out their Myspace page.  “Alright” from “Into the West” is, in my opinion, the best sample as it presents a more emotional/darker tone than their new material.

Sam Bradley and The Men were my real draw for the evening.  I had an opportunity to see Sam, minus his men, down in Nashville back in April.  See review and pics here.  I didn’t have a chance to meet him then; for reasons unknown to Sam or myself my interview scheduled with him fell through, so I made it a point to speak with him before this show and introduce myself.  Although not an official interview I did pick up at least one exciting piece of information: his EP of 5 songs—EP, not album—will be released in 3 weeks.  He noted that he wasn’t 100% happy with the progress on the full album so he is rightfully taking time to make it what he wants it to be.  Now, those of you who know Sam know he’s a jokester so he may have just been pulling my leg when he told me his EP will be available at his shows in “dog tag” form and vinyl.  No cd.  Supposedly the dog tag will contain a code that can be redeemed online. (The EP will not be on iTunes).  As I’m incredibly gullible I may have just missed his sarcasm, but I suppose we will see in 3 weeks time. If it is true I think it’s an amazingly clever idea and I’m pretty excited about owning some Sam on vinyl as well.

For those unfamiliar with Sam’s music, it is a mix of old school country and blues with a happier edge.  Even his more depressingly themed songs have a somewhat lighter tone.  In all, his songs range from the more low key emotional pieces to upbeat and catchy tunes—with lyrics so memorable that they cause women across the nation to find themselves singing “don’t tell the wife, don’t tell the wife…” But by far the best part of Sam’s music is his performance.  His onstage demeanor and real life personality can be described as engaging, entertaining, and a bit theatrical at times.  That personality and some truly thought/emotion provoking lyrics have melded together to create a great talent with a lot of potential.

As for the actual show, Sam and the Men’s performance was expectantly rewarding.  They opened their set with “Watching Over You”, and a song by drummer Mark Kerrey, “A Song Could”.  They followed with a crowd favorite, “Whiskey”, with the drink once again accompanying Sam on stage.  (Whoever said he quit drinking for the tour was mistaken.) They continued with one of my personal favorites, “Sea Blue”, played a song written by bassist Jeff Reidlinger entitled “Go Back”—which was a definite highlight– and ended the night with “Soho Whores”.  In all they played a 10 song set.  See the full set list, pictures, and video below.  (I apologize for the shoddy camera work.  I’m usually not in charge of the video…)

On a final note, as I mentioned earlier, the last time I saw Sam he was without any back up so this time I was incredibly interested to hear how much of a difference the band would make.  “The Men” are comprised of Mark Kerrey on drums, David Meszaros on electric guitar and Jeff Riedlinger on bass.  While I did enjoy the fuller sound, I hope to see the band become slightly more prominent in the future.  Sometimes they blended too much into the background and ultimately I wanted to see the guys bring some more of their own personality and energy to the mix.  That small criticism aside, I think Sam’s music works exceptionally well with a band and the song by Jeff Riedlinger was an excellent addition to Sam’s usual playlist.

Overall the show was a definite success, even though I wish the crowd and venue had been a little better for them–the crowd was smaller and the venue was practically without air conditioning, so not the best conditions.  But as expected Sam and the Men worked with what they were given and put on an excellent show.  If you missed Sam in Louisville and Lexington, don’t worry, he will be in NASHVILLE on FRIDAY, JULY 3rd at 3rd & Lindsley.

Sam Bradley set list:

  1. You Think You’re Free Watching Over You
  2. A Song Could–written by Mark Kerrey
  3. Whiskey
  4. Sea Blue
  5. Even Thought of Leaving
  6. Scared
  7. Derek
  8. Too Far Gone
  9. Go Back—written by Jeff Riedlinger
  10. Soho Whores

more pics and video below the break…

PILOT SPEED

SAM BRADLEY

IMG_9470

THRIVING IVORY

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Responses

  1. Great review and photos of Sam and the Men. The video clip of Whiskey starts with Sam telling the audience that Mark Kerrey wrote the previous song (A Song Could).
    Here is the set list they played:

    Watching Over You
    A Song Could (Mark Kerrey)
    Whiskey
    Sea Blue
    Even Thought Of Leaving
    Scared
    Derek
    Too Far Gone
    Go Back (Jeff Riedlinger)
    Soho Whores

  2. Thanks for clearing up the set list, Elvyna. I thought I may have either had the first song wrong, or missed Mark’s song. Looks like it was both. The corrections have been made.

  3. I was there. It was hot, and not just the temperature! Sam and The Men were great! I, like you, had seen Sam perform several times solo. This was my first seeing the band perform. I was not disappointed!

  4. Fantastic review! I was fortunate enough to get to see Sam and the Men in Birmingham. I had heard great things about them and I was definitely not disppointed. They really rocked the place! I also agree with you about Pilot Speed. I had only heard a song or two off their myspace page. They also put on a great show. Thanks for posting this article~~ I’m glad the guys are getting the recognition they deserve.

  5. Great article!

    I saw him in Nashville twice now and he is amazing solo and with his band. He rocked Nashville this July!

  6. Love the review. I saw Sam & The Men last night in Charlotte and they were great. He was super nice and also said he’d have music out in 3 weeks. But he didn’t say anything about *how* it would be released. I am disappointed no iTunes…hopefully it will be on Underground Music’s site? Any idea?

  7. Great article! Sam and The Men seem to put on a great show and I can’t wait to see them!

  8. Enjoyed reading this review! The past two times I’ve seen Sam perform in Nashville have been wonderful! He’s a talented one :)

  9. He didn’t mention which site it would be available through, just that you have to have the dog tag in order to get the redemption code for the website. He said the tag will be available at his shows, but didn’t say anything about other ways to purchase. He just noted that itunes took to long to get everything up and running. He’s trying to get us his music as soon as possible since he knows we are all anxiously awaiting it!

    Thanks for all the comments! Also, more photos (and larger versions of these) are on Sam’s facebook and Sam and the Men’s facebook.

  10. This is an awesome review! Sam and the Men put on great shows. :) I can’t wait to see them again!

  11. Great review! I also saw Sam & The Men in Birmingham, in a not-well-cooled venue, and they handled everything with great class and a smile.
    Sam talked about the EP coming out, though I don’t recall any mention of dog-tags. He also didn’t mention vinyl, though I had heard about that already. I just hope there will be a way to purchase the EP online without a code. Who knows when he’ll be back to Alabama!


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