Sam Amidon takes traditional music and makes it his own. He might begin with a traditional murder ballad and then morph it into something of his own, fueled by Bill Frisell's languidly atmospheric guitar, Shahzad Ismaily's minimal but essential percussion and Amidon's own yearning voice. At other times, Amidon weaves his own new tunes into worn, weary, seemingly ageless sagas.
Amidon has been doing this for a long time. In 1998, back when he was 16, NPR aired a story about his Vermont contra-dance band Popcorn Behavior, a group he'd assembled with his friend Thomas Bartlett (a.k.a. Doveman). Sixteen years later, Amidon has made a gorgeous new album, Lily-O, and performed a pair of its songs at the Tiny Desk — followed by "Short Life," from his 2013 album Bright Sunny South.
- "Blue Mountains"
- "Pat Do This, Pat Do That"
- "Short Life"
Producers: Bob Boilen, Maggie Starbard; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Nick Michael, Maggie Starbard; Assistant Producer: Susan Hale Thomas; photo by Susan Hale Thomas/NPR