Happy go Samantha | VailDaily.com

Happy go Samantha

Laura A. Ball
Special to the Daily Samantha Stollenwerck brings her earthy pop sound to the Hot Summer Nights free concert series today at the Ford Amphitheater in Vail Village at 6:30 p.m.

VAIL – Driving down the 101 along the California coast with the top down and not a cloud in the sky, you could throw Jack Johnson’s “In Between Dreams” in the CD player or you could put on Samantha Stollenwerck’s “Square One.”A rising, young singer/songwriter and guitarist, the blonde beauty from San Francisco may just be Johnson’s female counterpart. It’s the kind of music you want to listen to on a sunny day, when you’re feeling good or on your front porch watching the sunset. She has coined the phrase “Cali Soul” and she brings her refreshing earth-pop sound backed by her 5-piece band, The Ritual, to the Ford Amphitheater tonight at 6:30.”I think a lot of my songs are really positive,” she said from her Bay Area apartment overlooking the city where she gains much of her lyrical inspiration. “It has to do with going places and the freedom to be alive. It’s like a personal twist on life that everybody gets a grasp of.”It’s not that life is always easy for Samantha, it’s a decision she has made to always procure the good from the bad. Life on the road, for instance, isn’t exactly a cakewalk. She gets lonely. She misses her boyfriend, her family. She gets tired traveling in a van with 12 passengers 18 hours a day show after show. “I say every day that I’m quitting,” she said. “I come home late at night, and I’m totally exhausted. Last night, I collapsed on the rug on the floor. I’m still getting over a cold I caught from the High Sierra Music Festival, and it’s so emotional. You give your heart and soul every day. It’s like, why the heck am I trying to do this?”

Samantha grew up in a musical household, always singing with her mother and two sisters. However, also very athletic, Samantha focused on her tennis playing, traveling the state to compete and winning. Until that is, she suffered a knee injury at 17, something she know sees as a “blessing in disguise.” Unable to do much of anything, Samantha picked up a guitar on the beaches of San Diego and began writing songs. She quickly developed a soulful pop sound as the surf punk scene of North County collided with her love of Southern rock, like the Black Crowes.Her musical endeavors evolved when she formed her first band, Shady Lady, in college in 1999 at C.U. Berkley. By the time she graduated, always having planned on entering the corporate business world and making lots of money, Samantha was drawn to making more music.It’s totally a necessity,” Samantha said. “I think it’s the only thing that I can do. It makes me so happy to play music, to be kind of a messenger in some way. It’s universal language that everybody gets.” In pursuing a career in music, Samantha has not jumped on every opportunity that came to pass. She has fought to maintain her sense of self, uncompromising her originality. “What’s the saying? It takes 10 years to make an overnight success,”

Samantha said. “I’d rather have it not be the greatest production record in the world and have it be real instead of fancy andcrystal clear. I’d rather take the long road than have other people who don’t know me do it the wrong way.”Despite struggling with trying to make a record and dealing with the politics of the industry, Samantha’s drive and persistence to grow as an artist has only matured.”I would love to collaborate with other musicians. I would love to be big and famous,” Samantha said. “I would love to be able to support myself and support the world. I’ve been so fortunate in being given the opportunity o do this, and I feel it’s my responsibility to give back.” As for tonight, the girl from “the golden state” just wants people to rock out with her. “We make people dance,” she said. “That is a prerequisite.”

Staff Writer Laura A. Ball can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 619, or laball@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado

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