Sam Amidon – an old folk head on young shoulders
Vermont native Sam Amidon explains how he went from office typist to folk revivalist - and how he loves to jam with Martin Hayes on the Lower East Side
Because of the type of music that he makes, it seems that Amidon is somewhat resigned to being the sort of musician who remains underground: highly respected in certain communities, but probably never that well-known or commercial, Mariah Carey covers or no. Rather than a sense of progression being something that he struggles with, he says that he has “no conceptual need to ‘advance’, or anything”.
Perhaps strangely, he is not at all committed to being a professional musician for the rest of his life, having “burnt out” on the fiddle since playing professionally straight out of college. “At the same time, I was beginning to do this folk music thing and beginning to play with other people, but I just couldn’t do it because I always had gigs and stuff – so I quit being a professional musician and I took a job,” he laughs.
“I’m a very fast typist, so I took a job transcribing interviews at an office, and it was completely surreal because I never knew what kind of stories I was going to be hearing. And that day job was the most creative musical act of my whole life. Everything that happened in the last seven years came from that moment that I quit being a professional musician. I don’t think I’d still be playing the fiddle if I’d continued down that path; I didn’t have the constitution to just do it blindly. Now, it’s become this personal activity again, it’s become like doing Tai-Chi every day, to play some Irish tunes or some old-time tunes on the fiddle. So I have no idea where I’ll be in 20 years. I hope that I’ll still be playing gigs, but at the same time I’m not gonna just do it because that’s what I’m supposed to do.
Sam Amidon plays Whelan’s, Dublin, on October 25th, 2013. Bright Sunny South is out now