In making her new album, Wild Heart, blues singer-guitarist Samantha Fish did her share of traveling, which included stops at a Mississippi facility in the middle of nowhere along with well-known places in midtown Memphis, Tennessee.
Fish’s decision to record all over the place, so to speak, doesn’t mean the music itself is all over the place. Thanks to producer Luther Dickinson (who also plays a variety of instruments on all but one of the album’s 12 tunes) and a steady cast of backing musicians, there’s continuity and character to the overall sound of Wild Heart, now available on Ruf Records.
“Luther knows a lot of musicians,” Fish says, “and he’s great at hearing parts and picking the right people for the job.”
Fish recently shared her thoughts on the different recording studios she used for Wild Heart, her third studio effort.
• Blade Studios — Shreveport, Louisiana (owned by Brady Blade, who drums on Wild Heart)
Samantha Fish: “It’s a pretty large studio, really new and nice, with top-of-the-line mics and gear. There’s a big room for drums, and they have a couple of isolation booths for amps and pianos.
“We recorded all together: bass, drums, guitars and vocals, then kept what worked. … The important thing to focus on for full band tracks is the energy. If the energy is there, you take that over a technically perfect performance anytime.”
• Zebra Ranch — Hernando, Mississippi (previously run by Dickinson’s father, the late musician-producer Jim Dickinson)
Fish: “[We recorded at Zebra Ranch] the day after we finished at Blade. Zebra Ranch is like the opposite of Blade; it’s a smaller studio. … The vibe is so earthy and peaceful. We were in the middle of a huge thunderstorm while recording, so that added to the electricity of the session for me.”
• Royal Studios and Ardent Studios — Memphis, Tennessee
Fish: “We would work in one place for a day, then move to the next studio. At Royal, we met Shontelle Norman-Beatty and Risse Norman. They put some backing vocals on a few songs, and Luther did some acoustic work. At Ardent, we did some mixing and guitar tracks.
“Both places are incredible, and both have different vibes. Royal Studios was humbling: They have Al Green’s microphone in the vocal booth. The girls actually used the same mic for my record that Al used to sing all his hits. That’s kind of surreal. Ardent also oozes history and hits. It’s a huge place, so I had fun walking around and taking everything in.”
— Introduction and interview by Chris M. Junior
Samantha Fish on tour (schedule subject to change):
• July 11: Sedalia Center — Big Island, Va.
• July 12: Johnnie Johnson Festival — Fairmont, W.Va.
• July 17: Rendezvous in the Park — Moscow, Idaho
• July 18: Winthrop Rhythm & Blues Festival — Winthrop, Wash.
• July 22: Live From Mt. Crested Butte concert series — Mt. Crested Butte, Colo.
• July 23: Outdoor Concert in the Park series — Frisco, Colo.
• July 24: Louisville Street Faire — Louisville, Colo.
• July 25: Hullabaloo Music and Camping Festival — Sokol Park in Bellevue, Neb.
• July 26: Listening Room concert series — The Lark in Hastings, Neb.
Photo by Dennis Gatz