I’ve featured six musicians in this series, including friends from high school and university, a Juno Award winner, the lead singer from a mega-band, and my idol, the Boss, but I’ve saved the best for last. In this FINAL installment of the Weekend Name Drop, meet my favourite musician, Sam Millen.

Name: Sam Millen, a.k.a. Samuel James, a.k.a. KrakakidSam19, a.k.a. Achemedee

Creative field: Singer, Songwriter, Guitarist, vlogger

Location: Palmerston North, New Zealand

Best known for: his song about Taumarunui; collaborations with Jamie McDell, Ella Tisdall and Leanne Reynolds; rhythm guitarist for Fortis

10-06-2009-102349-p-mMy connection: Sam is my son, “in whom I am well pleased.” His mother and I raised him, starting in Canada, moving him to New Zealand when he was three, and we’re still working on him now that he’s twenty-three! Sam grew up with my guitar in our house along with music which he has integrated into his repertoire from Bruce Springsteen to Great Big Sea. We bought him his first guitar at thirteen and, while I showed him a few chords, he essentially taught himself in earnest after the age of fifteen. We supported him during high school music festivals and stage productions, church worship bands, and his solo activities, often as his first audience for his new work. I count myself as his number one fan, sharing everything he does on Facebook and with anyone else who’s not yet tired of hearing my boasting.

13047899_634259796724770_5364835842854189676_o-3Inspiration for this writer: I’m proud of Sam for all sorts of things: winning speech competitions, serving as head boy at his high school, working his way through his Marketing degree. In terms of creativity, I was pleased to see Sam develop a love for guitar and skills that quickly surpassed my own (one of his first solos on stage was for Guns ‘N’ Roses’ Sweet Child of Mine), but I had to inform him that guitar players are a dime a dozen in this world. He responded to this challenge by working diligently on his singing voice and writing his own songs. It’s this combination of talent and hard work that inspires me. I envy him his ear, his ability to work out how to play a version of just about any song, and to play multiple instruments. Without lessons, I’ve seen him not only play pieces on piano, but compose them. I love talking about the creative process with him. He has a passion for ideas and I have benefited from his enthusiasm for various artists such as The Kills and City and Colour. But it is Sam’s love for his  family that inspires me most. He has included his sister in his journey, he collaborates with his partner, Leanne Reynolds, and he always involves his old parents and his wider family overseas.

sammy-2Why you should check him out and share with others:
 Of course I’m biased in saying Sam is my favourite musician, but allow me to persuade you to give him a listen too. These days, Sam performs as a solo artist, singing a mix of originals and covers, interpreted in original ways with just his voice and a guitar. Sam has a sensitivity to the sounds of language as well as to the images words can convey and the feelings they can elicit. His lyrics incorporate the personal from his own life, but in ways that can relate to us all. Plus, he writes bloody good melodies. In his earlier work, Sam played more complex guitar runs behind his vocals, but he has since adapted his style, simplifying it, leaving spaces for the audience to focus on their own interpretation and response. But, as with all my Name Drop posts, my aim is not so much to persuade you, but to introduce you. Check Sam out for yourself. His music can be downloaded from BandCamp and iTunes and you can watch his videos on YouTube and Facebook. He has plans for an EP and full length CD and performs live whenever possible. Either digitally or live, enjoy his intimate performances and be “well pleased”.

Sample of work:

Sam’s next song and video will be for a song called I Was a Fire. I am thrilled to be the first to publish the lyrics for this song. Enjoy – and look out for the video when it is released on YouTube and Facebook.

I Was a Fire

“I can’t remember how I got here.
I was a fire, I was a raucous display.
I can’t recall the day the month or the year,
but now I’m a burned out Chevrolet on the side of the highway,
I am a dog, begging to be let in from the rain,
an unfinished song, cursed and thrown away.

But I was a fire, this much I know to be true,
I flickered and roared and I burned bright for you.
I was a blaze, fearsome and holy, I gave my all,
my light, my warmth, my company.
Fires may give, but they’ll always take,
they’re selfish and harsh and destroy in their wake.
I was a fire.

I spit and I raged and I lashed my tongue,
I promised you light on the nights you had none.
But when the mornings prevailed, they revealed my price,
a smouldering ruin, an awe inspiring plight.
I am a dog, desperate for some relief from the storm,
a loathsome burden, an everlasting thorn.

But I was a fire, this much I know to be true,
I flickered and roared and I burned bright for you.
I was a blaze, fearsome and holy, I gave my all,
my light, my warmth, my company.
Fires may give, but they’ll always take,
they’re reckless and violent and destroy in their wake,
fires may give, but they’ll always take, take take …
I was a fire.”

Here’s Sam, himself, in his most recent video for A Light From the Shore:

Find out more: Facebook, Twitter, BandCamp, YouTube, iTunessoundcloud, Instagram

The Weekend Name Drop has been a weekly feature on this blog, promoting people I have encountered who are doing creative things.

Antony Millen is a Canadian living and writing in New Zealand. He is the author of three novels: Redeeming Brother Murrihy, Te Kauhanga and The Chain.

Smashwords Cover Te_Kauhanga_Cover_for_Kindle (2)The_Chain_Cover_for_Kindle

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