Photos 1 & 2 by Ashly Salmon,
Photo 3 by Juliana Tobon
Portland-based Sam Densmore epitomizes what it means to be Oregonian.
Born in coastal Coos Bay, the singer/songwriter was raised modestly and at age 10 taught himself the guitar, playing in a slew of alternative bands through the ‘90s and embracing a defining era in the Pacific Northwest’s musical heritage. Eventually he made the move to folk-leaning solo artist and Open Marriage, the fourth release under his own name, marks his first recordings with a full band in 5 years.
It’s obvious within the first bar of album's first single, Flood You, that Open Marriage is the culmination of Densmore’s musical adventures to date. Starting with a hooky acoustic guitar walkup before ripping into overdriven electric guitar and a four-on-the-floor groove, the alternative roots of his formative years blend perfectly with more recent explorations in folk. Recorded live-off-the-floor in his own studio, the grassroots influence of a life lived in Oregon permeates the track and sets the tone for the ten-song album.
Sam has released a video single titled 'Wide Eyed Tripper' from his latest full length effort titled Open Marriage, released in April of 2017.
Sam has had music placed in the Showtime TV series 'Shameless' and the film 'Bear City'. He's also previously released 4 albums with his former band, Silverhawk.
Sam has recently toured Europe, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho, Colorado, and Alaska. He's currently preparing for tour dates in Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Alaska in 2018. Set lists include songs from his current release, Open Marriage, new songs, and songs from his previous releases.
Previous Solo Releases include:
2012 Ku Thar Tik/Sad Songs For A Sad World/Cat Years Double EP
2013 Quit Work Make Music EP Split with Curtis Irie
2017 Heavy Mellow - Selections 2010 - 2017
2017 Open Marriage
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NEW ALBUM!! SAM DENSMORE - OPEN MARRIAGE Available World Wide - April 21, 2017
"Portland based singer-songwriter Sam Densmore has produced a number of albums since he first started his career in music and it was with grateful hands that we picked up his latest offering, Open Marriage; a cheerful and eager album filled with experimental folk and country vibes that will help get your blood pumping.
Densmore is a powerful and highly charged musician with a wealth of talent at his disposal. Open Marriage is flooded with jovial, heartfelt and uplifting melodies that warm you to the core. His music is jubilant, bouncing along and yet feels somewhat rough around the edges, like his work is still adapting to its own nature as it reaches your ears. Densmore renders this with soft and simple guitar melodies that are burning with passion and are delivered with such determination and an experimental nature that they become almost monumental. There is a clearly defined core to his work that sites around folk and country music but it readily departs from this with synthesizers and even gospel organs. The result is a rich amalgamation of sounds that cycle through pop, jazz and even ska before returning home to folk.
Densmore himself brings his music to life with a playful flourish and ties it all together with his earnest, tender, almost smoky vocals. Singing with a distinct passion and vigour, Densmore’s voice seems to seat itself somewhere between the warming nature of Darren Black and the mischievous lilt of Johnathan Coulton – it’s slightly rasped, incredibly fun and undeniably passionate. It’s a charismatic and warming voice that demands attention and really makes you want to hear what he has to say.
Open Marriage is a perfect fusion of sounds that all centre themselves around folk and country. There is a deep vein of music steeped in the heritage of these genres but allowed the room to breathe and intermingle with new and exciting tones." Joe Knipe Artree (UK) May 17, 2017
"As a complete piece, it definitely feels like the mark of a man who has come to terms with a very difficult thing, and it’s hard not to get sucked in. If you’ve recently been dumped, or even had to break up with someone, I would be amazed if you didn’t come out of the other side of this LP feeling a bit better about it." Cultured Vultures, 4/19/17
"Sam Densmore is set to release his fourth full-length album, Open Marriage, later this month. It’s the Coos Bay native’s first new material in almost five years, and it finds the songwriter in a surprisingly raw and emotional state. According to the record’s press release, Densmore wrote the new songs largely about the demise of his own marriage:
Featuring various musings on his own open marriage - which ended in separation two years ago - the album is Densmore’s processing of that situation. Between the upbeat energy produced by his band and the singer’s ability to sarcastically quip now at his experiences, it seems safe to say that the demons were successfully exorcised through the creation of Open Marriage.
Produced in Portland with help from Mike Coykendall (M. Ward, Beth Orton, Bright Eyes), the album’s features 10 folk rock tracks, including this warm and wistful song “Up All Night.” "- Oregon Public Broadcasting, 4/15/2017
"This rootsy alternative country is new territory for Sam Densmore but he seems right at home under the canopy of Americana. His track "Flood You" recently premiered on Glide Magazine where the reception was warm. The track swoons between crunchy guitar riffs and infectious rhythms, a nice mix for the fan who loves the crunchy reverb of garage rock and the light melodies of folk." - nextnorthwest.com NOV 2016
"Oregon native Sam Densmore has been a fixture in the Portland music scene for a handful of years now, playing in a slew of alternative bands throughout the ‘90s and embracing a defining era in the Pacific Northwest’s musical heritage. These days Densmore leans less on his rock band past and more on his folky future as a solo artist. Much of his solo work is just that, solo, but his upcoming album Open Marriage, the fourth release under his own name, marks his first recordings with a full band in 5 years. Today Glide Magazine is presenting an exclusive first listen of the first single off Open Marriage, “Flood You”, which comes out December 2nd on Buddy Cat Music. The catchy tune kicks off with an acoustic guitar walkup before diving into overdriven electric guitar and an infectious groove, giving the tune a rootsy power pop sound that marks something of a departure from Densmore’s folkier material. Reflecting on the song, Densmore says, “‘Flood You’ is about emotions and how they are like water – they ebb and flow , they sublimate, they change form and can overwhelm you, especially when suppressed.” Glide Magazine, NOV 2016 "
"Heavy Mellow" (set for March 2017 release) is an indie folk rock compilation album highlighting solo performance tracks from 2010 to present. The set gives a solid introduction to Densmore's crisp, laidback vocal style and lyric writing. Songs such as "She's Going to Want You" and "Flea Circus Star" capture a grown-up sensitivity and humor on themes of love and life. Densmore says he likes to tell stories, sing with feeling and make connections. His melodies make it easy to sing along with lyrics that feel familiar but avoid cliché. The song "Up All Night" reflects on the trouble spots that creep into relationships, with the pivotal line: "This life is a dance. We stumble around while we're working it out." "I'm trying to be in the moment with people, connect with people and allow the work to live," he said. " Geneva Miller, The World News, Oct. 5, 2016
"Densmore has been part of the Portland music scene for quite a while, and it's easy to see (and hear) why he's stuck around the way he has." Portland Mercury, July 2016
"Sam Densmore is a singer-songwriter from Portland, and his music is warm and inviting, like a well-worn blanket that’s always in reach. He put a new song up on his Bandcamp late last year, but I spent considerably more time with his 2012 album “Ku-thar’-tik,” mainly because I had a hard time turning it off. The guy takes basic tools — voice, words, melodies, plus an acoustic guitar played with some percussive oomph — and spins some pretty spellbinding songs that sound like a collision of Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy (when he’s playing solo), David Bowie’s spacey pop sensibility, a bit of R.E.M.’s organic jangle and something else that I can’t quite put my finger on. Seriously, it’s on the tip of my tongue. I hear it in the melodies and phrasing all across “Ku-thar’-tik” and it brings to mind someone singing something, but that vision stays just out of focus. Which is probably just as well; who wants to be compared to a bunch of other musicians anyway? Besides, the fact that Densmore’s songs feel comfortable and familiar without sounding like every other folk-pop singer to roll through Bend is what makes him interesting. And worth checking out. " — Ben Salmon, Bend Bulletin, Published Mar 6, 2015
"When you name an album Quit Work Make Music, you create a to-do list for yourself. You’ve got to make sure that the lyrics are the right amount of nonchalant, that the tracks flow smoothly, and that you’ve captured a carefree demeanor that screams “cool.” It may seem like a lot for something that’s meant to be natural, but for the right artist or group everything will fall into place the way it’s supposed to. Sam Densmore and Curtis Irie showcase just how well they’ve captured cool, calm, and collected in this collaborative effort.This album sounds like you’re listening in on a Friday night basement jam session for hip kids’ ears only. The lead vocal is casual, gentle and will mellow any listener out. Funky guitar playing is the key driving force of the entire album and keeps your foot tapping. Accenting the lead vocal are harmonies and background vocals that give the songs a finishing touch.
“It’s All Been Said” starts off the album by revealing the group’s personality through the combination of composition, ambiguous lyrics, and soft singing. The album’s most ethereal track, “Who,” sits on the borderline of trippy. “Sunday Dinner” is laid-back but exudes rebellion. Densmore and Irie get gritty in “Oregon Blues” with a soulful vocal line, honky-tonk guitar, and harmonica. The track pays homage to the distinguishably slick sound of the blues.Quit Work Make Music is perfectly titled due to the tranquil mood of the album. You’ll find yourself dreading the demands of a productive day, and instead hoping for days of untroubled freedom. While abandoning your day job isn’t possible for most, at least we can listen along and escape for a bit. " In A Word: Peaceful—by Priscilla Cordero, July 16, 2014, Aquarian Weekly
"Portland, OR based songwriters Sam Densmore (Silverhawk) and Curtis Irie (Irie Idea) release their collaborative effort Quit Work Make Music on June 10th. With influences ranging from indie folk and rock, to blues and early Jamaican music, the duo have packed enough flavor in Quit Work Make Music to send your tastebuds into overdrive. Today, Earbuddy is excited to premiere the somewhat sad, country-esque single, “Flea Circus Star”. " - Earbuddy, Nick Krenn 5/10/14
"Densmore’s pleasant voice and smartly succinct songwriting make for a strong and impressive double whammy. Moreover, Densmore plays a mean acoustic guitar and never degenerates into mushy cliché at any point..."—Jersey Beat - Joe Wawrzyniak
"Beautiful chord changes and harmonies are heard throughout the course of [Ku-Thar'-Tik] and the simplicity forces you to focus on the message without being distracted by the smoke and mirrors of glitzy production tricks." - Now This Rocks
"Is it folk? Rock? Americana? Something else? Yes. Densmore sounds like he's simply tossing off song after song. But after a while, it becomes apparent how good these pieces really are. No matter how you might classify this release, it's a winner."—Aiding & Abetting Guest Columnist
"Overall, The Forest of the Trees isn’t an album to listen to if you want to jump around. However, if you’re hangin’ out with a few friends you can play for them one of the best new albums of the year." Jersey Beat - Phil Rainone
“The melodies are huge, the lyrics begging for a throughway sing-a-long...Melancholy yet hopeful, Stipe-like but original.”—Pop Matters - Eamon P. Joyce
"Silverhawk will stun you like a beautiful new wave pop sunburst.. "Flowers in June" embodying the rhythmic propulsion and chorus perfection...."—CMJ New Music Report - Peter Orlov
"Sam and John Densmore...craft a distinctively millennial brand of Americana—think Mellow Gold-era Beck, minus the ironic rapping. Twangy guitars brush up against glam swagger and an Alex Chilton-ish knack for melody, psychedelic flourishes and lyrics about drinking, being drunk, and dealing with the hangover."—Willamette Week - Matthew Singer