With his latest record, Concrete and Mud, Sam Morrow cuts the profile of a Southern gentleman-rocker. Morrow harnesses the swampiest guitar licks reminiscent of Lynyrd Skynyrd while finding genuine grooves that evoke Leon Russell and the Tulsa Sound. Currently, Sam Morrow sits atop the heap of a fresh crop of country rockers that are perpetuating the attitude held by Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman five decades ago. Ahead of his appearance at the Hargray Capitol Theatre on April 24th, Wes Griffith invited Sam to discuss Americana, his influences, and his evolution as an artist.
WG: Thanks for sending me an advance copy of Concrete and Mud. You are one of our favorite discoveries here at 11th Hour and 100.9 The Creek this year. I’ve been listening to all of your music, and this new record has a different quality about it. It has a little more attitude and energy about it. I feel some Southern Rock influence in there and some Waylon Jennings-type swagger, and even some roots rock vibes that make me think of The Band. Tell me about your approach to this album.
SM: I approached this album much differently than the last. I wanted to make music that people can bob their heads to and dance too rather than the sorta sadder stuff of my old records. I really dug into my influences a lot deeper. The Band and Waylon being some of them, but also Little Feat, Skynyrd, and many more. I focused a lot on groove on this record, and I think it shows.
WG: You currently hail from California. There seems to be a burgeoning country music scene there with some great new artists like Sam Outlaw, Jamie Wyatt, Jade Jackson and Elijah Ocean. What’s that scene like?
SM: The scene in California is really growing. There are so many great artists out here that I respect and its small enough still to have a family sort of vibe. The Grand Ole Echo is to thank for a lot of the scene development out here, and it just keep growing and getting better.
WG: Did you grow up in California? Tell me about your musical influences growing up.
SM: I actually grew up in Texas. One of my favorite bands growing up and still is ZZ Top. They are Houston guys just like me. I honestly avoided country music till about 10 years ago just because I had this punk rock kinda attitude. Country is of course very big in Texas and the South, so I always wanted to go against the grain. Once I found Americana and Country music, I couldn’t resist, and there was no going back.
WG: You got sober just before releasing your first 2 albums. How has that process informed/affected your work?
SM: Getting sober really influenced my writing a lot and made me a lot more mature as a person and an artist. When I was out drinking, I basically used being a musician as an excuse to not have a real job. Now that I am sober, I’m much more focused and involved in my career.
WG: Have you ever been to Macon? We have several musical giants that have come out of this town. Any of those artist have a profound effect on you?
SM: I’ve never been to Macon. I’d say my biggest influence from there is The Allman Brothers. I’m really excited to come for the show and check out the city.
WG: What are your thoughts on the Americana scene these days? Do you like being lumped in to that category?
SM: I think the Americana scene is great. It lends a community for artists making good American music that maybe isn’t so mainstream. I make the music I make, and I don’t really feel a need to label it, but I like what the Americana Music Association has done for artists like me by giving them a spotlight.
WG: What can we expect to see when you take the stage on 4/24 to open for Shinyribs at The Hargray Capitol Theatre?
SM: A kick-ass rock n’ roll show.