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In The Spotlight: Sammy Kay

Photo by: Vince Sadonis
Photo by: Vince Sadonis

I think at some point in every music fans’ life, we fall in love with a complete stranger because of the way they hold a guitar, or they way they sing those sad songs that get you right in the ticker. Sammy Kay is one of those people.

If I weren’t way too cool to use slang words in an unironic way, I’d most definitely tell you that this New Brunswick dude is dripping swagger out of every pore. But I’m an adult, so instead I’ll say that Sammy Kay has a personality as big as his sound and every bit as entertaining. Coming from playing with The Forthrights and other ska outfits, Sammy sort of sounds like if Bruce Springsteen went through a ska phase, and really, what’s not to love about that? True to his reggae roots, Kay will have you swaying in time and feeling good.

While successfully combining American blues with really good, vintage-type ska is impressive enough, I really think what struck me was the delivery of his classic, but relevant lyrics. Sure, pretty words are pretty words, but when Sammy Kay growls ‘em out you really feel it in your chest. But not only in your chest, in your head too, and it messes with your brain. I went into that show feeling great. I was in my home state, with my closest friends listening to my favorite people play my favorite songs (and I was looking forward to a heaping plate of disco fries after the show.) I was stoked. Then Sammy Kay happened. I can’t even tell you what I was feeling but all of a sudden I was really bummed about being single, happy to be alive and in need of a cigarette and a good cry. Thankfully I didn’t act on any of those impulses while standing front and center amidst a huge crowd of strangers…but I wanted to. Sammy is an incredibly talented musician who speaks with an honesty and directness that hurts in all the right places and keeps you coming back for more. Thankfully, we can do just that. After working with The Bouncing Soul’s Pete Steinkopf at Little Eden Productions in Asbury Park, NJ, Sammy Kay has another round in the chamber. While there’s no release date scheduled yet, my money is on it being worth the wait.

In a world full of Justin Beiber’s, we need more Sammy Kay’s. We need people who realize that music is a journey. People who honor and respect the artists and songs that got us to where we are today and use it to keep us singing along to the new stuff. Sammy Kay does just that. He’s been quoted as saying, “my heart is not just on my sleeve, but on the sleeve of every record”, and he’s damn near close to being right. His heart is on his sleeve, on the sleeve of the record and oozing out of raspy lyric and playful chord. So be it for the way he holds his guitar, the way he sings his lyrics or for the insanely adorable Anna Kendrik cover he does, you’re going to fall in love with Sammy Kay.

Check out Sammy Kay on his upcoming tour with fellow Jersey boys, The Gaslight Anthem. Purchase a CD or buy concert tickets here.

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Lauren Kyle

I have way too many bandanas but never enough bobby pins. I'm still pretty upset that they stopped making pudding pops.

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