“One of the freshest voices I’ve heard in over a decade, Sammy restores my faith that there is still much innovating and interesting music to be made, and that rock music is alive and well.”
-Dr. Daniel Levitin
(Author of the New York Times Bestseller "This Is Your Brain On Music" & Musician who has worked with Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, Jonathan Richman & others)
“Sammy’s voice is one I wish I had, his songs are ones I wish I had written … If I owned a record label I’d sign him, if I had a radio station I’d play him, if I owned a paper I’d write about him.”
5 time Western Canadian Music award winner, 3 Juno award nominations
Get Your Tickets!
On December 2nd, Sammy will be releasing his album with a full band at the Station on Jasper. Dylan Greenhough and Jack Garton (with bands) will be the opening acts.
Since releasing the single “Weather Report” at the start of summer, Sammy Volkov has been turning a lot of heads with a sound that updates vintage early ‘60s pop and R&B with modern themes and sensibilities.
Based in so-called Edmonton, Alberta, Sammy’s musical approach might borrow a couple of quirks from Sinatra, a little flourish from M. Ward or Neil Young, a riff from the Shirelles, but before you know it he’s crafted something startlingly original from an esoteric palette of sonic colours. It’s all there on “Be Alright!”, an 11-song collection that combines Brill Building skill with Brian Wilson-esque ambition, all tied together by a voice as supple and entrancing as any heard in recent memory. Sammy takes music history seriously, and we get to reap the benefits. While taking his first leap into recording with a 2018 independent EP (released under the name Sam Wolfe), he went to New York City to follow his other longstanding dream of becoming an actor. Although he graduated from SUNY’s prestigious Acting BFA Conservatory, Sammy’s life in New York primarily consisted of doing behind the scenes work for many top rated television shows, and singing at open mic nights in Brooklyn.
When, one day, he came to the conclusion that he wasn’t making much creative progress, he contacted his producer Harry Gregg and engineer Scott Franchuk back at Edmonton’s Riverdale Recorders and said, “Let’s make an album.” What followed has been an emotional two-year journey, from initial recording sessions at the start of 2020, to finishing the album at the height of the pandemic, to now finally being able to share “Be Alright!”
It’s easy to simply say that if you appreciate great songwriting delivered in a classic, compelling package, then Sammy Volkov may just be your new favourite artist. But that barely does justice to the music contained on “Be Alright!” Few artists today have the vision to raise their work to the level of the 20th century’s greatest composers and performers, but that’s precisely what Sammy Volkov has done.
Prepare to be astounded.
Poster by Daniela Roth
Listen to Jessica Ng's full interview with Sammy on the CBC Radio program Radio Active here!
This is the third single and title track from Sammy's upcoming album. Kate Stevens and Lisa Wilton were the first announcers to play the single on CKUA Radio (with Stevens giving the song its debut). Sammy says:
"I wrote 'Be Alright' after running back home to Edmonton from NYC with my tail between my legs. Plague numbers were exploding and protests were really taking off. This is a song I wrote in response to what I perceived as powerful people's hollow gestures. We were hearing a lot of vapid talk and seeing very little meaningful action.
It piques my interest when a song combines bright, catchy vibes with dark, mysterious lyrics; I tried to pull that off here. I think you can hear some Beatles, Ron Sexsmith, and Emitt Rhodes influence on this song.
If the Vincent Price movie "The Last Man on Earth" was still in the public domain, I would've included an audio clip of Price as he tries to comfort a wounded dog. "Everything's gonna be alright" he says. Well, sorry if I'm spoiling it, but in that movie, things do not go very well for Vincent or his poor doggy."
Recorded at Riverdale Recorders with Harry Gregg producing and on bass, Scott Franchuk mixing and engineering, and Philip Shaw Bova mastering. Daniela Roth plays the theremin, Brendan Lyons on drums and percussion, Brennan Cameron on keys, Chris Tabbert on guitar. Travis Salty made the cover art.
Since releasing the single “Weather Report” at the start of summer, Sammy Volkov has been turning a lot of heads with a sound that updates vintage early ‘60s pop and R&B with modern themes and sensibilities. He’s offering another preview of his debut full-length album Be Alright! (out Dec. 4) with “Blue Star,” on which his Roy Orbison-level voice gets to shine over a stellar arrangement, complete with baritone sax solo and female backing chorus. Sammy says of “Blue Star":
"I was living in Toronto when I wrote this song. My grandmother had passed away and I was parked at dusk in a lakeside neighborhood that was strange to me. I looked up and saw a peculiarly blue, clear little star that I had never seen before. I imagined that the star was new and a point of connection to my grandmother—now to be constant with my love for her. I used to perform the song in a slow, Townes Van Zandt-kinda way, but I was biking around Edmonton one day after listening to a lot of Dion and the Belmonts and Jonathan Richman and tried setting the melody to an ‘up’ kind of soulful rhythm. Solomon Burke’s recording of ‘Cry To Me’ is a track I emulated here.”
Recorded at Riverdale Recorders with Harry Gregg producing and on bass, Scott Franchuk mixing and engineering, and Philip Shaw Bova mastering. Dana Wylie provides backup vocals, Brendan Lyons on drums and percussion, Brennan Cameron on keys, Chris Tabbert on guitar, Dave Babcock on sax. Travis Salty made the cover art.
“Weather Report” caresses the ear like a dual homage to Roy Orbison and the great Brill Building songwriters, while capturing Sammy’s almost cinematic approach to making music. Sammy says of “Weather Report”:
“I was writing the storyline to a film about an emotionally stifled teen growing up in the rural area of so-called Edmonton in the 1960s. He begins to find himself when he drives into town each weekend to hear a band play their regular gig and he becomes infatuated with the drummer. However, he doesn’t know if he can express this feeling, and as a way of getting closer to the drummer, he writes a song for the band to record. He gives them a demo and of course the song is a kind of angst-ridden love letter.
Contextualizing the song in this way was my way of rewriting history. Unfortunately, there are no ‘60s music videos about a young man who has a crush on another
guy. But that doesn’t mean the melody and musical structure cannot be re-purposed. This song drew heavily from Frankie Valli's ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore.’”
Recorded at Riverdale Recorders with Harry Gregg producing and on bass, Scott Franchuk mixing and engineering, and Philip Shaw Bova mastering. Dana Wylie provides backup vocals, Brendan Lyons on drums and percussion, Brennan Cameron on keys, Chris Tabbert on guitar, Dave Babcock on sax. Daniela Roth was the photographer and Travis Salty made the cover art.
Video Premiere on Cups N Cakes!
ALBUM COMING SOON
'Be Alright!' will be released with support from Jason Schneider Media. Starting in July, three single releases will lead to the full album release by December 2022. The album will let you experience what it may have sounded like had Townes Van Zandt & Solomon Burke collaborated as a songwriting team and then had Dion DiMucci or Roy Orbison sing the song. Sammy believes music should be rich atmospherically and that you shouldn’t sing it unless you feel it. Recorded safely during the pandemic at Edmonton's Riverdale Recorders, the album consists entirely of original songs. It was engineered by Scott Franchuk, produced by Harry Gregg, and mastered by the Grammy-Nominated Philip Shaw Bova.
Cover by: Morgan Melenka
SAM WOLFE SINGS!
“It's not often, but every once in a while, someone I've never heard of walks in and blows my socks off. I felt a little like Sam Phillips last night."
- Scott Franchuk
While performing under the moniker "Sam Wolfe", Sammy recorded his first EP in the Summer of 2018 with his friend Jeremy Witten on bass and the brilliant Scott Franchuk engineering. The classic, haunting sounds were captured at "The Audio Department", one of Edmonton's classic recording spaces.
On the evening of September 17th, "Riding the Waves" premiered at Festival Place. This documentary features 11 artists who relate their pandemic experiences and share their music. Sammy is featured about 10 minutes into the film (following the wonderful D'orjay The Singing Shaman).
“Gorgeous, heartfelt, soulful singing with such a lovely natural technique. Just absolutely stunning. Listen to Sammy, follow him on Spotify and be transported. So beautiful.”
- Amy Van Keeken (CKUA Radio)
“As a veteran of this industry, I know that it is practically unheard of for an artist to burst out of the gate presenting the highest levels of artistic assuredness and eclecticism - but with “Be Alright!”, Sammy has done just that.”
- Chris Wynters (VP Artist Management - Six Shooter Records)
“Heads up, here's one to watch! Beautiful, absolutely beautiful!”
- Rhea March (CJSR Radio)
Photo: Daniela Roth
Canadian-American artist Sammy Volkov is pretty weird. Rather than socializing, he spent most of his formative years collecting records and inventing secret songs in his mind. If he likes what he hears in a performance, he has the audacity to picture himself as a contemporary to this artist. It doesn’t matter how old the recording is - Sammy might borrow a couple quirks from Sinatra, a little flourish from M. Ward or Neil Young, a riff from the Shirelles, and before you know it you’re presented with quite an esoteric palette of sonic colours.
He graduated from SUNY Purchase’s Acting BFA Conservatory where he performed & trained under the direction of Tony-Award winning Trazana Beverley and many other leaders in the theatre, film & music industries. Sammy has lived in NYC, LA, Edmonton and Toronto. He was lucky enough to be chosen by Matt Masters as a featured performer for an Americana Music Festival in Calgary, a featured artist at Edmonton’s ‘Big Dreamer Jam’, and he has opened for artists like Dana Wylie, Doug Hoyer, Cayley Thomas, Amy Van Keeken, Baby Jey and more. His music has been featured on the CKUA and CJSR radio stations. Sammy has contributed vocals to upcoming albums from Emmet Michael & Jonathan Kawchuk.
Sammy was honoured to have been selected by the Canadian Musicians Cooperative as an Emerging Artist & Program Coordinator for Summer 2021. Since wrapping up the recording sessions for his upcoming album "Be Alright!", Sammy was featured as a performer in the documentary film "Riding the Waves" which premiered at Festival Place. He performed to a sold-out crowd for Festival Place's patio series on a split bill with Ayla Brook & the Sound Men. The Heart Of The City music festival booked Sammy as a featured artist as part of its Youth Stage line up in June. He was also booked to play in the heart of downtown Edmonton for the ICE Jam Concert Series and most recently headlined at The Station on Jasper and Found Festival. In September he performed at the Tiny Lights Festival in Ymir, BC and opened for Spencer Burton at The Aviary in Edmonton. He is most excited to open for Mariel Buckley twice in the fall!
Sammy's debut full-length album "Be Alright!" will be released in December. With support from the Edmonton Arts Council, Sammy is currently in the studio recording a duets album of original material with the brilliant Dana Wylie.