I feel like my best moments as a songwriter and a performer come when the boundaries are blurred, my guard let down. So here it is. My story of what I do and how I came to do it. And for those who prefer the more formal and statistical break down, please just scroll down to the bottom. My story begins in 1993 in Houston, TX.
I was ten years old and would fall asleep at night listening to my cassettes (usually of the mix-tape variety) and imagining myself performing the songs in front of an auditorium full of people. For a kid who’s singing parts in the school play were quickly rewritten into spoken lines, it was a long shot. In fifth-grade, my best friend, Dan, and I decided that we would start a band. It didn’t matter that neither of us could play an instrument or sing and though we never actually decided on a name our buddy Peter quickly signed on as band manager.
We were on our way! On the day after Christmas Dan had a snare drum, I had an acoustic-guitar, and our still-nameless band had a surefire shot at taking over the airwaves. After three and a half years (and just two guitar lessons) we parted ways for high school and our shot at rock stardom seemed faded forever. Most of the kids at my new school had known each other for years and high school for me consisted mostly of riding the bench on my high school football team, coating my face with Clearasil, and sneaking an occasional beer out of the fridge. One night in my junior year still stands out to me though.
I went with a group of friends to see the Dave Matthews Band at the amphitheater just outside of Houston. What should have been a normal exercise in high school sociology and newfound independence turned into much more. I remember staring at the stage during the encore; we had lawn seats and the band looked like a group of ants, still, there was something incredibly electric coming from the stage. To this day I don’t know how to describe it but as I stood there watching I knew, “That is what I have to do.” It wasn’t a case of just wanting something, it was like I was being pulled into it.
I didn’t say much on the way home that night, nor the next day at school, but I definitely felt different. Just over a year later I found myself in Atlanta determined to prove to myself that I could survive going to college far away from my home in Texas. Though it was hard leaving my friends and family, I knew on the very first day that I had made the right decision. The opportunity to start over seemed nearly miraculous.
I had been quiet in high school. Not quite shy, just more reserved. But in a dorm room eight hundred miles from home, I found a new sense of confidence and self-assuredness. I wasn’t just the new kid - I was one of thousands; and I was suddenly more outgoing that I had been before.
One afternoon I was playing guitar in my room with the door propped open when a kid that I had met a few days earlier came in and said that he played as well. His name was Rich and he brought his guitar over and we played a few songs together. That night Rich and I sat on a couch in one of the common rooms and played while a group of kids began to come in and listen. Each night that week we played and each night the small crowd grew larger.
With the encouragement of our new friends we went to the nearest bar to offer our services in exchange for a few pitchers of cheap beer and all of a sudden we had ourselves a weekly gig. We couldn’t believe our luck. We soon started writing our own songs and mixing them into our performances. When Rich left Atlanta for a semester to study abroad I continued to write and pick up gigs around town.
The songs I wrote during this period became the beginning of my first album, Above the Underneath. A friend of mine owned a studio and I started recording there in early 2004. I paid for the sessions by playing as many gigs in as many bars as I could. My social life quickly began to disappear as I would head to studio whenever I had a couple of hours in between classes and gigs.
Finally in April of 2005 the album was finished and ready to go. I graduated in the following month and rather than getting a job I hired an agent. Since then I’ve been playing shows and writing songs as a full-time job and I couldn’t be happier. My fifth-grade dream that seemed so distant and impossible has come true.
I play music for and with my friends every day. I’ve shared stages and written songs with artists that I used to line up to buy tickets to see. I have a band that is made up of musicians who humble and inspire me on a daily basis. I am incredibly grateful to the people who listen to and spread my music, come to my shows, and allow me to keep doing what I love.
At present, I am writing songs for a new album. I’m hoping to begin recording with my band this summer. The new songs are the best that I have ever written and I can’t wait to get them recorded. The shows also continue to get better and better.
Each night something new and exciting happens and I love getting to share that with the folks who come out to watch and listen. And although I don’t know where I’ll be in the coming months and years, I do know exactly what I’ll be doing – I’ll be writing and playing my songs, telling my story. - Sam Thacker 5/16/07 As promised, here is the brief run down of facts and stats: -Debut album, Above the Underneath, is independently recorded and released in 2005. The album is heralded as “simply one of the best undiscovered gems of 2005” (Krissie Callahan, Just Another Song). -Serenade, the first single from Above the Underneath, garners radio airplay on both commercial and satellite radio.
The song is officially added to rotation on Top 40 station Hot 104.9-FM in Tallahassee, FL. Program and Music Director for the station, Brian O’Conner raves, “Sam is just one of those guys that knows how to connect to his audience – it pays dividends for him on stage and on radio. Serenade is reacting in Tallahassee RIGHT NOW!” -Performed alongside Better Than Ezra, Collective Soul, Sister Hazel, Tonic, Gavin DeGraw, and Marc Broussard on The Rock Boat – “The World’s Greatest Floating Music Festival” – in 2004 and 2007. -Shared stages with The Fray, The Doobie Brothers, Edwin McCain, Corey Smith, Sister Hazel, Jonny Lang, Cowboy Mouth, and Angie Aparo among others.
-Recent songwriting collaborations include works with Emerson Hart (of Tonic), Charlie Mars, Aslyn, Duncan Coutts (of Our Lady Peace), Nate Butler, and Johnny Andrews. -“We can expect to hear a lot from Sam Thacker. His incredible talent and strikingly honest vocals take over any venue he plays” (Ashley Hesseltine, Jezebel Magazine). -“Thacker writes with the maturity of a seasoned songwriter and has an undeniable knack for weaving beautiful melodies” (Krissie Callahan, Just Another Song). Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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