Sammy Rae & The Friends and PHILTHY MAG, A History (2/14 at The Fillmore)

Still looking for Valentine’s Day plans?  Well, whether you’re all baed up or navigating the chilliest time of year solo, there’s sure to be plenty of love and affection...

Still looking for Valentine’s Day plans?  Well, whether you’re all baed up or navigating the chilliest time of year solo, there’s sure to be plenty of love and affection going on at The Fillmore on February 14th courtesy of Sammy Rae & The Friends (The last time they played the venue, they even invited fans to help decorate their stage set!)  The Brooklyn collective – whose sounds blend classic rock, jazz, folk, funk, and soul – have been on tour pretty much nonstop since lockdown ended, playing sold-out shows at World Café Live in October of 2021 and TLA in March of 2022, in addition to a show at The Fillmore in October of 2022 and an explosive rainy day set at last year’s XPoNential Music Festival, establishing themselves as dear phriends of both Philly and PHILTHY.

Last month Sammy Rae & The Friends dropped “Coming Home Song,” the lead single from their upcoming debut full-length, due later this year.  And later this week, the group will kick off the second leg of their CAMP Tour, whose first leg made a stop at XPN’s annual outdoor festival in Camden last year.  If you could still use some convincing to let Sammy Rae & The Friends co-star in your special night, or if you just wanna hear what they’re all about from the source themselves, check out these three delightful chats Sammy Rae and I had between 2021 and 2022.

My now-famous August 2021 chat with Sammy Rae began with me unintentionally outing the death of Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts (announced just hours before) to the singer/songwriter…  However, after a moment of commiserating, Sammy Rae turned the tragedy into an opportunity to share that The Rolling Stones’ “Miss You” has long been a joyful part of her nightly, pre-show ritual, whose length and pace she uses as a soundtrack to assure she’s spending just the right amount of time on her stage makeup.  During our chat – which previewed a long-sold-out show at The Music Hall at World Café Live – Sammy also discusses how she was influenced by other “large rock bands,” like The Beatles and Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band, when creating, “a project of people who are all equal in star quality,” in addition to how the group’s live shows take inspiration from the time many members have spent in musical theatre.

Between their sold-out show at World Café Live and their sold-out show at the much larger TLA, Sammy Rae — during a February 2022 chat – tells me that her & The Friends have gotten to be a full-fledged touring act since we last spoke: “The last time you saw us we were new to touring and now we’re not.”  However, she tells me that the vibes of the band’s concerts have remained the same: “There are certain things that are never gonna change, like it’s always an all-inclusive, everybody-is-invited vibe.”  She also explains how the eclecticism of the group’s sound has gotten them spots on a wide variety of festivals, featuring quite different styles: “We are getting on all these jam lineups, and bluegrass lineups, and jazz festivals.”

“We’re never really home for more than four days, so the line between home and road is really blurry,” Sammy Rae tells me during a September 2022 chat, prior to their first-ever show at The Fillmore (which boasts 250% the capacity of their previous area appearance.)  However, she notes that she & The Friends are quite happy about that: “We’re at a place in our career where touring is really important.  This is the year where we tour our faces off and we’re never home.”  She also tells me that, with their background in theatre production, they make a conscious effort to make sure that every tour features a completely different show, so even if you have seen the band at several of their local stops in the past few years, you definitely shouldn’t feel comfortable missing their return to Fishtown’s largest ballroom.

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.