Pass by this sweet and unassuming female on the street, you might think she's just an ordinary young lady. See her on stage with two 12-string guitars, one microphone, harmonica, tambourine wrapped around the left ankle, and stomp box under the right foot, you'd swear she is someone else altogether!
In support of Sandi Thom's Maine debut at One Longfellow Square, May 12, 2014, the platinum selling, multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter is warmly welcomed by area press, with feature spots, interviews and live performances, at Community Radio WERU FM 89.9, Bull Moose Music, 98.9 WCLZ, and WCSH's nightly program, "207". (Click on links to listen/watch.)
"I have always been blessed with knowing who and what I wanted to be from an early age. The day I sat down at the piano and played my first note was the day I decided my purpose in life was to make music for people," Thom writes within the liner notes of Flesh and Blood (2012), her fourth solo album. And such, the 200 seat intimate atmosphere at One Longfellow Square is the optimum setting for the artist to fully connect with new and old fans who are sitting a stones throw away.
In no time, Thom sets the tempo for the 100 minute set, launching into an unrestrained, roadhouse blues, harmonica solo. The crowd 'hoots' and 'whistles', recognizing the intro to "Help Me", the Sonny Boy Williamson blues number she covered on Flesh and Blood. Add tambourine, then guitar, to the melody, and a palpable energy mounts. Soon the wooden floor beneath our feet vibrates as a rhythmic thumping from the stomp box under her foot radiates outward. "Won't you help me baby...Won't you help me darling," Thom sings out, in her signature vocal style: part gritty-growl, part angelic-lullaby. The shows off to a great start.
As I watch this one-woman band, I can't help but marvel at her elegance, her graceful composure. She's in full control of her surroundings: melody, lyrics, instrumentation, and audience. She looks everyone in the eye and lets loose on the sultry, up tempo, R&B number, "Stormy Weather".
Thom shares several stories and inspirations behind her music:
She discovered she "could have a voice, say something important," as a result of listening to Canadian-American folk singer, Buffy Sainte-Marie, on the car radio. She was six years old. At 14, Thom savored her first taste of professional life when joining a local pub, cover band. "Great fun! An absolute blast! (They were) "... kind of like fathers," says Thom, referring to band mates thirty years her senior. "The benefit: they introduced me to their music. Fleetwood Mac. The Eagles ...We would play this song ... Landslide." The version is impeccable, as if she'd wrote it herself.
"Took a lot of solace in alcohol—in a pub—where many of the worlds problems are solved," she remarks, tuning the 12-string Taylor in her arms. "Asked, 'Who are your greatest influences?' Stevie Nicks. Buffy Sainte-Marie ... and one karaoke drunk who sung like an angel," Thom says of the inspiration behind "Human Jukebox", from Merchant and Thieves (2010). Here, Thom's softer tones drive home the meaning behind the lyrics. "He's healing hearts with this song ... He's a human jukebox."
The attentive crowd absorbs all the soul Thom can pour out in one evening, as she continues to alternate between sentimental ballads, pop hits, and driving, blues-rock numbers from her five albums. It's the perfect blend of emotion, instrumentation and vocal prowess. Thom's lyrical honesty and one-on-one approach is purposeful and heartwarming. She makes an indelible impact on the listening audience, drawing them into her "personal" space - forever.
I encourage you to read an interview with The Daily Beast, where Thom openly dishes on the ups/downs of the business. It is truly an enlightening story.
For all things "Sandi," including news on her upcoming sixth solo album, fall tour and more, visit www.sandithom.com.
Yours in music,
Photo (top left) courtesy of Sandi Thom, Guardian Angel Records.
Photo (bottom right) courtesy of A. J. St. Pierre.