Concert Review: Samantha Fish (Harvester Performance Center)

BY JERRY FRIEND I took a little trip up to the Harvester Performance Center in Rocky Mount, Virginia a few weeks back to see Samantha ...


I took a little trip up to the Harvester Performance Center in Rocky Mount, Virginia a few weeks back to see Samantha Fish play in this intimate theater space that holds about 400 people and there’s not a bad seat in the house. Rocky Mount is a charming town just outside of Roanoke Va. It’s a beautiful drive through the rolling hills of Virginia heading up US 220 N.

The town is a very welcoming place full of charming people, and great restaurants. They wisely invested in the performance space ten years ago, because it not only brings economic investment into their community but over the years has provided a place to showcase regional artists and national touring artists to the area. I first visited the Harvester around that time to see Grammy Award winning artist Keb Mo perform there. It had been a while since I had visited so I was happy to return to see another one of my favorite Blues artists on this trip.

It was a full house, and the crowd was excited to see Smanatha Fish return to their venue as she has played there many times over the years, she even mentioned that it was one of her favorite venues to play at, and it’s easy to understand why. The staff is incredibly friendly, they allow patrons to bring their food and drinks in and out of the performance space, they accommodate smokers by letting everyone go in and out of the show to the outdoor smoking areas too. There is a space for the artists to setup their merchandise and even time allotted after their performances to have meet and greets with fans, signing autographs and taking photos with them.

On this night the crowd was treated to an opening artist, Ghalia Volt, another dynamic Blues artist who hails from Brussels Belgium. She described herself as a “no-man band” or “one-woman band” and she handled her performance masterfully. She introduced herself to the audience and began to play. At first, she played her guitar and sang. Later she also played the bass drum and cymbals layering that into her sound, she was very entertaining joking with the audience as they shared banter during her set. At one point during her set she pulled out a flask and guzzled whiskey from it while still playing and then used the flask as a guitar slide. It was an entertaining display of her talent. I thought it was a nice schtick and she had the flasks available for sale along with vinyl, CDs stickers, and shirts. She greeted the crowd after her set in the lobby, I was able to speak with her briefly and she told me that she was living in New Orleans while not out touring the county.

Samantha Fish was up next and the crowd was ready for her set. Samantha reminded them how much she enjoyed coming back to their theater and promised to deliver an incredible night of music for the faithful fans who came out again and again to see her perform.

Samantha has won not only their hearts but too many Blues awards to mention. She is known world-wide as an artist that blends combustible riffs, visceral rhythms, and spine-tingling vocals to wow live audiences everywhere she travels.

We were treated to what seemed to me an incredibly long show. She had a wonderful band backing her and she’s got a huge catalog of music for them to perform that varies from straight ahead rock and roll to vulnerable ballads to high energy blues, with her constantly changing guitars to fit the song choices. Overall it was an incredible night of music by both artists that satisfied the crowd. I was really glad I made the decision to travel up for this show; I felt like I was rewarded for my efforts.

Keep an eye out for upcoming performances at this amazing space, they are booking some incredible talent here and it’s a real treat to see some of them play in a space this size. Upcoming shows include, a very diverse schedule of top rated artists. Trombone Shorty plays there on May 23rd. Plus they have all of these amazing artists on their schedule: Ben Folds, Robert Earl Keen and Steve Earle, Cristopher Cross, Donovan Frankenfurter, The Oak Ridge Boys, American Aquarium, Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers, and Everclear.
Jerry Friend has spent most of his life chasing the joy that live music brings. Originally from Florida, he’s been in North Carolina the last 23 years after he settled in Burlington, NC. A systems administrator by day. In his free time, he enjoys photographing live performances by artists at clubs, concerts and festivals. His goal is to try to capture those experiences through his lens and be able to share these images with others. As a fan of artists that span diverse music genres, you might find him at shows that include Bluegrass to Jazz, Jam bands, Alternative Country to Electronic Dance Music, Rock and even Pop music. He loves to travel to festivals, in the Southeast and the Mid-Atlantic. He also enjoys collecting show posters and vinyl records.

Read Jerry's posts here


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Strange Carolinas is the Travelogue Of The Offbeat, a wry look at the interesting, unique, and offbeat roadside attractions, people, music, art, food, and festivals in North and South Carolina.


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