Sam Ness shared his originals and explained a few things along the way that might be a little foreign to us. We couldn’t relate to joys of chewing tobacco, but his husky voice soothed all our chilly souls and he dappled his set with a few covers from Passenger, The Lumineers and other folky loves of ours.
He’s backpacking across Europe, “meeting people and having a good time”, so we were lucky to steal a couple of hours of his travels and have him here as our honourable guest as he participates in The International Sound Project.
This project has been initiated by Euro Hostels and it aims to support artists as they travel the UK. It’s a simple trade, really. They perform in The Hatch Bar and Euro Hostels hosts them with a bed and a meal (maybe even a cheeky beer or two :)
We’re always looking for travelling musicians to participate! Just comment here, or DM us there, poke us, just get our attention, and we’ll have you here in no timeHe sat across from me at our co-working table in the bar, told me stories about touring in the US. Sam Ness, said he was quite relieved that he could legally drink a beer here. He laughed and poured a local brew into a glass.
I gasped, “how old are you?!” My eyes giving his tall warrior-like body a once over.
“Eighteen” he said beaming, and pushing his shoulder length hair behind his right ear.
(*The moment you feel like an old-hag and you want to cough and change the subject but instead, you check if he knows who Mulder and Scully are.)
He does. We move on.
ODWD: So, I’m guessing this is your first time alone in the uk, how’s it going?
SN: Yep, it’s my first time leaving the country besides Canada! I’m loving it. I was in Scotland for three months. I was supposed to be in Scotland for a month, then England for a month, then Ireland for a month, and I ended up just staying in Scotland, hahaha.
(His laugh lingers a little awkwardly but his smile is always charming. Actually, every time you read, “hahaha”, you can remember this. Thanks.)
ODWD: Where were you in Scotland?
SN: Edinburgh and Glasgow mostly, but I went all through the highlands and ended up living in a van with a couple of people for a while, just travelling around.
ODWD: How’s that working out for you?
SN: Pretty good.
ODWD: Was that your plan when you left the US?
SN: Well no, well, I mean yeah, I was just planning to try and perform shows like this. I ended up rocking up here and realising people book out pretty fast here.
I mean, back home, it’s like, ‘hey! Can I’ve a show tonight?’.
And they’re like, ‘Yeah, sure!’.
Um, so i got here, and I was like, ‘how am I going to make money??’ So I started busking.
ODWD: Have you gotten in any trouble? I’m guessing you don’t have a license.
SN: No, no I don’t , haha. In each city, you need a different license, so I just kinda, usually, play the “ignorant American” card, haha. If it can get me out of trouble, haha.
ODWD: How was the busking in Scotland?
SN: I got to Edinburgh right after the Fring, ‘cause I had to wait ‘til I was eighteen to fly over. So when I was there the busking was great, ‘cause it was right after the fringe and people still wanted to hear music. Then, I went back there three or so weeks ago, and I think I made like £2 in a day, it was horrible, haha.
The locals were a bit like, ‘alright the Fringe is over, leave”, haha. I like it here.
ODWD: Liverpool’s great for music, how are you finding the busking scene here?
SN: I only met two of them (buskers, the folks who play music on the street in hopes of earning a quid ), they were pretty nice. Yeah, got around a little bit last night, and this morning, to just kinda wander around this beautiful city.
I actually talked to a police officer ‘cause I couldn’t get any straight answers from anyone, as to what like the official law was, and so there was a police officer standing on the street, so I was like, ‘excuse me! Sir!’
And he was like, ‘what’s up?’
‘I was like, “Just wondering if you can tell me the law..” so he and I just sat and had a half hour conversation.
He was like, “Well I can’t tell you, you can do it, but we’re not going to stop you”.
Hahaha, I was like, “cool”.
(Quite the talent for recapping half-hour conversations with policemen. We’re grateful. We like his interpretation of the Scouse policemen though.)
ODWD: Where are you off to next?
SN: Back to Glasgow for Christmas, then to France.
ODWD: You made some really great friends, you’re even going to have Christmas with them!
SN: Yeah, a family from Clydebank.
ODWD: So, are you going to continue travelling using your music?
SN: Yeah, busking selling CD’s, trying to pay for hostels and stuff.
ODWD: Or just trading your music for a bed.
SN: Haha, yeah.
ODWD: What do you think is the best thing about travelling?
SN: Um…I think the best thing is just meeting people. It’s super fun. This one night, I was in Alban, well, I wanted to go north ‘cause I was starting to miss home, and I wanted to go somewhere cold, so I went up to Alban and I was just hanging out, fishing and stuff, but then I tried busking. I met some people that had walked by, then later that night I saw them in a bar.
They were like, ‘so where (are) you headed?’
And I was like, ‘I think I might go and try and camp on Skye (Isle of Skye, Scotland) for a while.’
And they were like, ‘Oh cool! That’s where we’re going, you want a ride?’
I was like, ‘Yeah, cool!’
But, they had actually decided amongst themselves, there was four of them, that they couldn’t give me a ride. Um…very long story, but I ended up belligerently finding their van in the middle of the night.
I went out with a couple of people from Minesota, which is right next to our state, and so we had a few too many drinks, and I lost them.
I ended up going kinda through a suburb of Alban and I ended up running into them and their great big van! I saw clothes hanging on the outside, so I was like, ‘it must be them!’ So I was knocking on their van, kinda yelling, ‘I’m so lost! Help me!’
Um, they were like, ‘yeah, sure bud, just walk literally down this street, your hostel’s right there.’
So I was like, ‘thank you! Sorry for waking you up’. It was like four in the morning, haha. And that was actually the moment they decided to let me travel with them. They had agreed amongst themselves, they were like ‘well if he’s that cool, that he’s you know, gonna come ask random strangers at four in the morning how to find his hostel, you know..’
(Not sure we do know…how would you respond to a random guy banging on your van door at four in the morning? The old hag is coming out again.)
SN: So I ended up hitching a ride with them to Skye, and then once we got there, they were like, ‘you don’t have a tent, or a sleeping bag, or any means of like feeding yourself, so you’re going to keep travelling with us.’
So I was like, “fair enough, haha.”
So I stuck with them and their great big red van for like two or three weeks.
ODWD: They sound like super cool people.
SN: haha, yeah.
ODWD: Tell me about your music.
SN: I do mostly music theatre. I was supposed to study that this year in New York City, and then decided not to, last minute. Um, I was sitting on top of a cliff, next to my house, watching the sun go down, trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life and I thought, ‘I think I’m going to go wander around Europe for a while,’ so I did.
I got into theatre in the seventh grade, I was thirteen/fourteen.
ODWD: Just a couple of years ago.
SN: Haha, yeah.
I was like thirteen/fourteen and then I started playing guitar and writing my own music when I was about fifteen. Um, then I really dove into it about two years ago, and started really writing a lot trying to, you know, promote myself and playing around Madison, our capital. Never really did any busking there, just tried to book shows, and recorded my own CD in my basement and in my friends garage. Then, I got an official studio EP done, right before I left..
ODWD: And here you are.
SN: Here I am.
ODWD: What band or singer/songwriters influence your sound?
SN: Well, the reason I came to the UK, all the artists here, mostly. There’s a couple back home, Bon Iver, who’s actually from my state, and The Lumineers. Here there’s Ben Howard, Mumford and Sons, and Passenger, (he speaks quickly as he gets through the list) Ed Sheerhan, Frank Turner and all these UK people. I thought it must be the place to be, you know. All these good musicians are coming out of it, and we have like, Justin Beiber, haha.
I guess that’s kind of my influence, but then I grew up with The Eagles, Eric Clapton, The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, and that kind of stuff, but a bit of everything, even country.
ODWD: What do you want to do with your music?
SN: I’m still trying to figure that out, haha. I have no idea. Ah, I thought about going into music education when I get back, or just pursuing music theatre and try and perform on broadway and that kind of stuff, um, but otherwise, for now, I’m just having fun, performing and seeing where it goes.
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