Show Review: Carter Sampson’s Release Show at the Blue Door in OKC

Show Reviews

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Oklahoma’s own Carter Sampson had a big day Friday 10/26. Her new album “Lucky” was released by Tulsa’s Horton Records, and she played her first of several album release shows to commemorate its release.

Taking the stage to a warm introduction from Blue Door owner and song champion Greg Johnson, Sampson wasted little time before launching into the title track of “Lucky.” Upon its conclusion, Sampson let us know the night’s routine. “We’re gonna play the whole damn album, take a quick break, and come back and play some other stuff.” Play the album she did. Track by track, and I can’t recommend it enough. It’s crazy good, and has rocketed to the top slots of my best of 2018 list. “Lucky” is proof positive that the next generation of singer songwriters have arrived, and that Oklahoma is going to be supplying a bunch of them for some time to come. Backing Sampson was a wealth of Oklahoma’s finest players, most of which played on “Lucky.” From multi-instrumentalist and song co-writer Jason Scott, to Kyle Reid on pedal steel, Luke Mullenix on stand up bass, Jack Waters on drums and new addition, Mike Satawake on electric guitar. Or as it was described by Carter, the Luke Mullenix Band featuring Luke Mullenix. Yes indeed, they were having a lot of fun together.

Each song from “Lucky” was masterfully rendered, created and presented with a down home sentimentality that just warms your heart. For me personally, the best songwriters have that ability to turn the everyday overlooked occurrence into a song that demands the listener invest oneself in its outcome. Sampson does so with songs such as “Anything Else To Do” and “Peaches.” Or, as she does with “Rattlesnake Kate,” by turning an old west tale into a character that’s quite larger than life. Of course, in the live setting, it’s the songwriter’s ability to preface the song as much as the song itself. Sampson manages to do so in such a nonchalant manner, that makes this task far easier than it is. The story prefacing “Ten Penny Nail” was perfection, as she told the tale of Guy Clark’s desperate attempt at solitude from Townes and Susannah, that he nailed himself into his own bedroom. It’s a tale I’m quite familiar with, but I absolutely loved hearing Sampson’s connection to it and how it fueled her own song.

“Lucky” also showcases a trio of tunes written by other songwriters, and hearing the stories behind these was endearing as well. From the humor of desperately wanting to record Zac Copleland’s “Hello Darlin” (“First time I heard it, I wanted to pee all over it”). Kalyn Fay’s “Tulsa,” and Sampson’s brother Stuart who painted the beautiful cover art, to Shel Silverstein’s lovely “Queen Of The Silver Dollar” and more tales of family. The presentation of the new album was about as perfect as it gets.

“Girl, I’m balls deep in rhinestone.” That’s the reply fellow songwriter Nellie Clay got when she called Sampson earlier in the day to check in. You see, in addition to being such a talented songwriter, Carter is also quite the artist as well. She creates and sells music inspired art including stunning artist (Prince, Elvis etc.) themed shadow boxes. She had several of these adorning the Blue Door’s front counters and available for sale alongside copies of her CDs, shirts, stickers and buttons. Obviously, rhinestones are quite the favorite, as they adorned everything from the shadow boxes to the clothes worn by Sampson herself. I believe every one of these pieces of art was sold by the time the brief intermission concluded. An Intermission that saw Carter catching up with many friends and family within the sold out crowd.

Resuming the music was Jason Scott performing a trio of his songs and being joined by Sampson and the remainder of the band to “play some other stuff.” The magic continued with some fellow Okie songwriters, Eric Oftedahl, the aforementioned Nellie Clay and Ken Pomeroy joining the already crowded stage to provide some harmonies on “Runaway” and “See the Devil Run”. Winding down the memorable evening, Sampson delighted the crowd with her well known, “Queen of Oklahoma.” On this night, she was just that.

All hail the Queen!

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