Featured Music: Wednesday, October 01, 2008
“The music needs to meet people” where they are, Anderson said.
Sam Anderson and the
Thrift Store Troubadours
Sat at Lola’s Saloon, 2736 W 6th St, FW.
$6 817-877-0666
Old Young Man

Though only 23, bluesy singer-songwriter Sam Anderson knows whence he came.


Bluesy singer-songwriter Sam Anderson was studying visual art at Texas Tech University four years ago when he decided to learn guitar to accompany his lifelong fascination with singing.
On canvas, the 23-year-old Keller native prefers landscapes. “I start off with the way it actually looks, then I like to add things,” he said. His approach to musicmaking is pretty similar. Young though he may be, Anderson knows enough to draw from the countless singer-songwriters who’ve helped pave his way. “You put together pieces of everything you’ve ever heard, everyone you’ve ever met,” he said.
Anderson reaches far back into Americana roots for the backbone of his age-old stories of living in excesses. He got turned onto John Lee Hooker, Sam Cook, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and other classics by his “cultured” yet “very dudish” father, who never stopped talking about music. Anderson also gives credit to his piano-playing mother and stints in school and church choirs.
At college in Lubbock, Anderson lived with some roommates in a house that bordered a cotton field. He credits them with pushing him toward the guitar. “They got sick of hearing me sing,” he said. “And I needed something else to back up my voice.” Obsessed with quickly learning his new instrument, Anderson met David Matsler of the now-defunct Black Bonnets, who was attending South Plains College in West Texas at the time. A “visual learner” by nature, Anderson studied the techniques of Matsler and other blues-folk-style players. Matsler “unraveled how I thought about everything musically,” Anderson said.
Anderson eventually transferred from Tech to the University of North Texas and moved back to Fort Worth to start playing shows in what he feels is a more “accepting” and helpful environment for musicians. Upon his return, Anderson began playing shows in the Stockyards, opening for another West Texas friend, Cody Jinks, among others. Before long, he befriended heavy-hitter Josh Weathers, who helped introduce the newcomer to the West Berry Street scene.
Anderson, who now plays weekly at The Moon, says that despite the local music scene’s positive attributes — “You couldn’t ask for better bands across the board” — the Fort still remains somewhat musically segregated. “I play to one set of people at the White Elephant and to another at The Moon, but there is a lot of the same music going on,” he said. “Musicians could share more fans, and an average live music fan would be surprised” by the similarities in quality locally.
If anyone can say that, it’s probably Anderson. He plays as many shows as possible all over North Texas — all of his income comes from music. Most of the time, he’s solo acoustic, though he also gigs a lot with his band, the Thrift Store Troubadours: former mentor Matsler on guitar, ex-Handclaps and Harmonies Pat Adams on bass, and drummer Pocket Haynes. After several months of “musical chairs,” the band’s line-up is now solid. Playing with his close friends is exactly what Anderson felt his music needed. “They make me sound better than I really am,” he said. “I write behind the beat, and that’s how they play.”
Most of his songs emphasize minor blues chords, which he feels makes for a melancholy experience. “I’m a happy guy, though,” he said. “Blues don’t have to be sad. By playing them, you’re helping yourself not be sad.”
In moving numbers such as “Shake Them Chains” and “Fort Worth Railroads,” Anderson portrays a clearly defined Everyman. Inspired by his trips to South America, his love of meeting people, and an uncertain adulthood, Anderson celebrates the bonds that unite us all. “Everyone is struggling with something,” he said, “and we can all at least be held down together.”
A young man singing the blues may seem anachronistic, but pretty much every time you hear the word “recession,” people accustomed to infinite possibilities start to consider scaling back. Anderson’s always been scaling back, though. He plays wherever, including at house parties and on street corners. “Then music needs to meet people there,” he said. “Music has always responded well to hard times, and when music is a refuge, it’s more meaningful.”
Anderson also has been working on a CD of eight live tracks that he hopes to release in a few weeks. Until then, he’ll be doing what he does every day. “People think that someone wants to be a musician because they don’t want to get a job,” he said, “but they don’t realize all the hard work that goes into it.”
After, all, he said, “When you do something you love, you work harder every day of your life to keep doing it.”

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