Eagle’s Potatopalooza to feature Samples concert
September 4, 2009
EAGLE, Colo. – When Eagle merchant Erin Seabury first moved to Colorado more than a decade ago, she fell in love with the music of the Boulder-based band The Samples.
When it came time to book entertainment for the annual Potatopalooza festival she organizes, Seabury found herself longing to hear that signature Colorado sound. Turns out, she’s a great representation of how The Samples approach gigs these days.
During their 20-plus year history, The Samples recorded 15 albums and embarked on countless tours. But nowadays, the band lets the fans come to them.
“I’ve been playing a lot of private shows for hard-core fans,” said Sean Kelly, The Samples’ front man. “I played a really cool wedding in Santa Barbara last week. The couple were huge fans, and they were in tears to have me be part of their wedding day.”
This unconventional booking strategy says a lot about the group. The Samples have never taken the mainstream approach to the music business. They would converge at a recording studio and emerge with a completed album a week and a half later.
“There is always a rawness to our music, and we have always banked on the grassroots support to keep our music alive,” Kelly said.
Recommended Stories For You
Seabury’s enthusiasm is a textbook example. “I love the Samples. I love their songs, and I think they are unique,” she said. “I wanted to put Potatopalooza on the map by having a band with big appeal at the venue.”
The Samples are most often described as an alternative rock band. Kelly offers his own take. “Producing music that doesn’t have shelf life has always been my focus,” he said. “I find our sound to be most easily described as melodic.”
Like any band worth its billing, The Samples have a signature story about how they got their name. Back in 1987, band members were renting a small house in south Boulder and struggling to make ends meet. They largely subsisted on the samples handed out at the local King Soopers. “We would go back as many times as allowed,” Kelly said.
They started playing gigs around the University of Colorado and branched out to college towns throughout the nation.
“I spend 14 of the best years of my life in Colorado,” said Kelly, who resides in Alpine, Calif.
Since leaving Colorado, he has lived a nomadic life. But with the bleak national economy, Kelly said he’s glad the band isn’t trying to sell out venues across the country while living in a tour bus. Plus, Kelly now has a couple of kids at home, and the touring lifestyle isn’t very compatible with raising a family.
Kelly said he has kind of set down The Samples for a while. “I needed a break. My goal was to hit the 20-year mark and I hit 22.” Currently he is working on a solo album, and he recently sold a song to a producer for a film called “Santorini Blue” with Richard Belzer and Ice-T.
“That’s a really cool opportunity, and it speaks volumes about our fan base,” said Kelly of the producer, who was a big fan of The Samples.
The fan base includes people like a Denver-area fan who sells insurance for a living and promotes The Samples as a sideline. Recently, he brought the band in to play following the July 4 Colorado Rapids game. The group also took the stage at the Boulder Theater on July 5.
This laid-back approach to booking appeals to Kelly. “I don’t know about the state of the music business right now,” he said. “I’m from Vermont, where it takes 36 gallons of maple sap to make one gallon of syrup. I’m focused on keep the music real and pure, and people can feel that. It’s like maple syrup.”
Kelly is the only founding member still playing with The Samples. The current lineup features Kelly on lead vocals and guitar. Mike Montrey is on acoustic guitar and vocals. Karl Dietel is on keyboards and vocals. Jared Johnson plays bass, and Billy Mutchler plays drums.
Kelly promised lots of good music in Eagle. Expect The Samples classics like “Weight of the World” and “Take my Hand” interspersed with less-familiar offerings. The Eagle show may even include some of his solo work. “We have 15 albums. I guarantee there’s something that people haven’t heard yet.”
The third annual Potatopalooza will run from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12, in downtown Eagle on Broadway. The schedule:
10 a.m. – Couch potato race, potato car derby and a potato bake off
12 p.m. – Food vendors and beer garden open. Potato vodka drinks and potato inspired activities all day
12 p.m. – Jason Vigil
2 p.m. – Rob Drabkin
4 p.m. – Hillbilly Hellcats
7 p.m. – The Samples
The street fair activities are free of charge. The Samples concert will be held in Eagle Town Park and costs $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Tickets are available at all Alpine Bank locations and online at http://www.potatopalooza.com.
Parking is available at the Eagle County Fairgrounds and the Eagle Valley Middle School. No outside alcohol or chairs are permitted into the concert.
For Potatopalooza sponsorship information contact Erin Seabury at 970-390-8678.