The One and The Only Sam Chase

Sam Chase, who was born and raised in San Francisco, has lived all over the city, but recently returned to his roots in the Outer Mission.

Aug. 10 | 4:30 p.m.
Lakeview Commons | South Lake Tahoe
with Patrick Walsh

“It’s good to be back where I came from,” he says. “We’ve got a great community here.”

For years Chase performed as a solo punk musician before forming a band based around some song ideas he’d been devotedly hiding away.

“These songs were more the underbelly songs I didn’t want to show the people,” Chase says. “I wanted to only show my hardcore punk side and not expose my sensitive feelings.”

One day he was driving in the car with friends and his iPod on shuffle, when some home recordings of his folk music came on.

“I quickly tried to shift to the next song, but my friends wanted to hear it,” he says. “So I sheepishly put more of it on. Pretty soon, they basically told me kindly, but confidently, ‘You’re really wasting your time with the punk rock stuff. You should switch over to this.’ ”

“The future is unpredictable and exciting and we are certainly willing to face it all head on.”
– Sam Chase

Chase formed a band with some friends and called it The Sam Chase. There are a couple of different stories of how Chase got the “The” before his stage name. The first comes from around the time when Google first started to get big.

“One day I was sitting in my apartment when my housemate comes barging into the room, screaming at top of his lungs that he’s a famous racecar driver,” Chase says. “I know this isn’t true because my roommate is a video-game tester. But sure enough he googled himself and we saw that he had the same name as a famous racecar driver. So then I googled myself, but the only people who popped up were other singer/songwriters that kind of looked like me and played music kind of like me. Rather than be like all the other Sam Chases, I decided that I would be ‘The’ Sam Chase. It was more of a band joke that just stuck and blossomed into what it is today.”

The other reason for the “The” comes from the first show that Chase booked for the band back in 2011 at The Riptide in the city’s Sunset District.

“When they booked me, they told me that I had three hours and it was going to be a rowdy crowd,” says Chase.

When Chase hesitated in his answer, they asked him if he had a band. Not wanting to lose the gig, he quickly reassured them and said the name of the band was The Sam Chase.

Watch the video for the title track for “Great White Noise”

“They said, ‘Oh good, because solo artists get really chewed up here,’ ” he says. “So I immediately got on the phone and called up some musicians I knew and we put together a three-hour show. It was our first show as a band and the rest is history.”

Chase has more recently surrounded himself with an eclectic eight-piece ensemble featuring guitar, trombone, trumpet, upright bass, cello, fiddle, piano and drums. Together the group is now known as The Sam Chase & The Untraditional.

“It was almost a complete turnaround of members,” says Chase. “The only original player is the cellist. We’ve got a lot of friends who play really good music, so it’s kind of hard to not get more people in the band.”

Last year’s album, “Great White Noise,” is a fantastic collection of full-throated indie folk, soul/rock featuring captivating songwriting over an expansive, dramatic wall of sound. The eponymous title song conjures a sound all its own, Chase’s voice cracking and bending perfectly over acoustic strum, ample strings and a choir of backing vocals.

The band is currently working on two albums in the studio.

“One is a concept album, rock opera and the other is a more mellow album of some of the softer songs that I have been penning since the release of ‘Great White Noise,’” he says.

Chase will perform with his band on the banks of South Shore on Aug. 10 with Placerville singer/songwriter Patrick Walsh opening. Then Chase will head down to Comatopia music festival in North Fork to jam with The Brothers Comatose and a host of other great Northern California and Pacific Northwest folk rock bands.

“The future is unpredictable and exciting and we are certainly willing to face it all head on,” says Chase.

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Sean McAlindin
Sean McAlindin is a writer, musician and educator based in Truckee. When he's not drafting new story ideas, he can be found jamming with his Celtic bluegrass band, Lost Whiskey Engine, hiking for a local back-country powder stash or hanging out with his daughter, Penelope.