Burrous' farewell bash

Local guitarist plans four-band show prior to departure for Anchorage
Sammy Burrous

The bad news: guitarist Sammy Burrous is leaving town on Sunday.


The good news: before he goes, he’s organized a four-band show at Rockwell, featuring performances by local musicians he considers to be among the city’s finest “up and comers,” as well as his own band, Devil’s Club.

The event offers local music lovers one last chance to hear the highly regarded musician and his band live for a while, as well as an opportunity to get better acquainted with the music of Liz Snyder, Slush Not Snow and Annie Bartholomew.

The 21-and-over show takes place from 8-12 p.m. Friday upstairs at Rockwell, and admission is $10 at the door.

Friday’s lineup features an expanded version of Burrous band, Devil’s Club, and includes local musicians C Scott Fry on bass, Dale McFarlin on drums, Mike Janes on harmonica, Libby Stringer on violin, Doug Bridges on saxophone and Mike Bucy on trombone. Burrous said performing with a bigger band is an exciting change.

“I come from the tradition of the power trio, like Hendrix or Stevie Ray, so I love that — and I will always want to do that. But there’s something really nice about going all BB King with this. There’s times I don’t have to play at all.” He laughed.

Though steeped in traditional blues -- a passion that began in fourth grade with the discovery of a tape of Howling Wolf and Muddy Waters -- Burrous’ current work includes originals and contemporary interpretations of the form.

Friday’s concert marks the first time he’s organized a show, a project he wanted to do in part as a way to celebrate musicians that have impressed him recently, as well as to celebrate the community’s support for his own music.

“The community has been so supportive all summer long, everybody has been coming to the gigs, everybody’s been so nice. ... This is the last gig in town and I wanted to put on a really good show and get the best guys available to come play. Whether I break even or not, I don’t care, I just really want the show to go well, I want people to enjoy themselves. I just want to knock them over the head with some really good stuff. That’s what it's all about.”

Local band Slush not Snow, which formed in the fall of 2011, features Eric Mountcastle on drums, James Raymond Rosales on lead guitar and vocals, and Guy Unzicker on bass and harmony vocals. Burrous said the band’s sound has been described as indie-rock-pop-punk.

Liz Snyder -- who with Alex Kotlarsz makes up acoustic folk rock duo The Wool Pullers -- will also perform, a singer Burrous describes as “a really dynamic new talent.”

KTOO’s Annie Bartholomew rounds out the program.

“Her voice is just so jazzy and sultry for such a young woman,” Burrous said.

The show is just the most recent in a string of projects Burrous has taken on over the past year, as he’s pushed himself to play as much as possible.

“I’d been on hiatus, so to speak, for a while there, and it was really important to me to come back strong. And play a lot of shows and make them really good, and get some of the goals accomplished that I’ve been wanting to for a while.”

Among those goals was getting his band back together and recording an album, a project that he just finished last week.

“Getting the record done was a huge thing -- a really huge thing.”

The album, an eight-song EP, was recorded at Studio A with Besty Sims. Five of the songs are original and three are covers. Burrous said the release date should be sometime around New Year’s.

“It’s ‘in the can,’ as they say. There’s still mixing and mastering to do.”

Burrous has also kept up a busy performance schedule, playing at Rockwell and the Viking, among other venues. He also plays in other bands and sometimes backs up local performers including Irene Muller and Collette Costa.

Burrous said, for him, being productive is a key part of being creative.

“It really just comes down to doing things, creating things,” he said. “I think it’s important to be productive, every day doing something that’s creative. That’s the bottom line as an artist. The most important thing is to produce something, whether it’s working on a show or doing a radio show or writing a song or playing a gig.”

Burrous’ productivity has benefitted in part from a recent major life change: he went through addiction recovery beginning in January 2011. He said the experience has had a strong impact on his life and music.

“When you’re using there’s a lack of pain but there’s also a lack of pleasure. Everything gets dulled down and there’s not a lot of color in life anymore. Yes, when you’re sober the pain is more intense, but so is the color and the happy stuff.

“I’m just a lot more comfortable in my own skin now.”

As a result of his own experience with addiction and recovery, Burrous plans to pursue a degree in psychology at UAA, with a minor in music.

“In general, the psychology bit is leaning toward addiction therapy or counseling,” he said.

Burrous intends to come back and play in Juneau, but as for his long-term plans, they are still undecided.

“As far as next year goes, I don’t know,” he said. “This last year has been so jam-packed with stuff that I don’t dare predict what will happen.”

Burrous, orginally from Ketchikan, has contacts in the Anchorage area, including high school friends Christopher Daniel Hennig of The Eternal Cowboys and Shawn Dillard of Spit Shine, who have already been trying to schedule Burrous some gigs.

“They’re really excited and I am too,” he said.

“I’m a Southeast kid and I haven’t spent much time up there at all. So I’m really interested in soaking up the northern vibe, seeing what its all about.”

For more on Friday’s event, visit www.facebook.com/events/262457437212723.


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