Podcast 159: Sam Amidon

Sam Amidon is, quite simply, one of our favorite musicians. His visionary music is mesmerizing: He somehow melds traditional Appalachian folk with experimental music (and it works). On this week’s podcast, we talk to Sam about his music-filled childhood (his parents are folk singers Peter and Mary Alice Amidon) and his transition from being a professional traditional fiddler to a groundbreaking solo artist.

Sam tells us about his discovery of avant-garde music and free jazz, what it was like to get lessons from Leroy Jenkins and his time in the indie band Stars Like Fleas. He also discusses his collaboration with hero Bill Frisell (2014’s Lily-O), the energy he finds in primitive field recordings, why he wore a kung fu outfit to his first solo gig… and a lot more. Sam has had a fascinating musical journey and he walks us through it all.

Sam’s 2017 Nonesuch album, The Following Mountain, is his first recording to feature his own songs. We can’t recommend it enough.

Audio note: There’s some cell phone distortion in the first ten minutes of this call; it gets better as the conversation goes on. Stick with it.

This episode is sponsored by Dying Breed Music and Retrofret Vintage Guitars.