Photo by Issac Tan
Photo by Isaac Tan

The Sam Willows: Watch Out! This Band is Going Places FAST in 2013!

Attending The Sam Willows’ EP Launch back in October 2012, little did I know how quickly this homegrown band was going to travel far and wide. My first impressions of them were positive. No actually, it was much more than that.

Hearing them share their brand of music was like taking a refreshing drink from the soulful eclectic waters of the river of music diversity, as they break down the walls between genres, bringing forth sounds that can only be described as all heart, all warmth, all love. And listening to them play live, it is hard to believe that this band has been together for less than a year. With strong harmonies and solid musicianship, Benjamin Kheng, Narelle Kheng, Sandra Tang and Jonathan Chua look like they were right at home onstage at TAB. Talk about ownership.

Opening the show with a cover medley, “Hey Soul Sister/We Are Young”, The Sam Willows were then joined onstage by guest artist Charlie Lim, who did a cover of “I Don’t Need No Doctor”, a song written by Nick Ashford, Valerie Simpson and Jo Armstead and first recorded by Ray Charles in 1966. Charlie then went on to play “There Is No Love”, a song off his self-titled EP.

As if having one amazing guest artist wasn’t enough, ShiGGa Shay stepped up and really got the crowd riled up with his cover of Kanye West’s “Gold Digger”. And he kept them going with a lovely acoustic version of his original song, “Rock My World”, before letting The Sam Willows close the first half of their show with an audience participation number.

The second half started with “Crown”, a dreamy folk interlude with a beautiful bluesy guitar solo by Jonathan that simply took me to another place. The band then slid smoothly into the funky sounds of an extended version of “Crimson”, introducing the various musicians who were sharing the stage with them. They then followed that with the country/gospel sounds of “Coming Train” and finished with the poignantly sweet and touching “Nightlight”.

Leaving the stage, it seems they left their 450-strong audience still yearning for more, and chants of “encore” soon filled the room, prompting The Sam Willows to return onstage with a particularly lively rendition of “Glasshouse”, complete with lights flashing and a party atmosphere like no other. The crowd was singing along with the band, and when the band went on to play “Crimson” for the second time that evening, the crowd was bobbing and dancing along to it.

It was during this EP Launch show at TAB when the band announced that they got invited to play at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival in Austin, Texas in March 2013. SXSW is one of the largest music festivals in the USA, and represents a big opportunity for The Sam Willows to see and be seen. For a band who’s been playing together for a relatively short period of time, this is certainly big news! The Sam Willows now joins the ranks of other Singaporeans who have played at South by Southwest like Electrico, The Great Spy Experiment and Inch Chua.

Since then, they have also been invited to play at the Canadian Music Festival in Toronto, Ontario in March 2013, joining fellow Singapore acts Deon Toh, MONSTER CAT, Eli T. x The Mystery and Inch Chua who are also performing there. The Canadian Music Festival is the largest new music festival in Canada, and it will see 1000 acts performing in 60 venues over 6 nights.

With the 2 large North American music festivals coming up, it looks like The Sam Willows are really going places fast! But before they leave our shores to embark on their American adventures, you can still catch The Sam Willows performing this evening at Celebrate 2013 at the Marina Bay Floating Platform, helping to ring in the New Year.

Photo by Issac Tan
Photo by Isaac Tan

Since it is New Year’s Eve, this writer asked Benjamin, Jonathan, Narelle and Sandra what are their New Year’s resolutions, and here’s what they said they wanted in 2013:

**Benjamin wants more singing, more dancing, more love

**Jonathan wants to work towards peace in the Middle East

**Narelle wants world peace, and to find happiness in the darkest of places

**Sandra wants to do more exciting things

To find out more about The Sam Willows, check out their official website.

The Sam Willows’ debut self-titled EP is now available at all HMV stores, and can be downloaded online at iTunes.

(Jeanette Chin)


Leave a Reply