(For bios of varying lengths, please visit the EPK page.)
Awakened by the personal honesty of backroad blues and the community soul of southern gospel, Sam Turton has brought his heartfelt vocals and ringing slide guitar to stages and studios for over forty years.
From Niagara to Nova Scotia to the arts-centric city of Guelph, Ontario, Turton has been a rock drummer, a blues sideman, an R&B showman, a protest singer-and now a seasoned leader in the powerful traditions of human-scale music.
In 2003, Sam produced his first solo recording, "feel," a spicy fusion of blues, folk and R&B infused with his personal experience of political activism, earthy mysticism, and emotional exploration.
Following this release, social and political issues inspired Sam to release the single, "Patriot," in 2004 (featured on the Air America network); produce the 2005 anti-Wal-Mart benefit compilation, "Not There," to national acclaim; release the single "We Got To Get Back Home," to the "Afghanistan: On Guard For Thee?" album in 2006; offer the song, "I Wanna Go Downtown," to the Guelph Speaks multi-arts compilation in 2008; and co-lead the massive "Help Haiti" benefit concert in Guelph in 2010.
Sam's passionate dedication to local living and community-shared music is embodied in a new CD project that captures the joy and raw energy of his big band of friends performing together "AT HOME." With the guitar and piano in the living room, the drums in the dining room, the bass in the front hall, the accordion in the kitchen, the singers in the upstairs hallway, the tube compressors in the office, the savoury soup on the stove and wires winding everywhere, AT HOME is a living testament to real music. The Turton-Lewis gathering features a number of Canadian folk/roots headliners, including Laura Bird, Tannis Slimmon, and Katherine Wheatley. Released October 2011, AT HOME is a roots-blues-gospel gumbo packed with slide guitar, deep groove, emotive lyrics, and soul-fired harmony.
Turton also offers his skills as a music producer, with a focus on capturing authentic performance within creative, sonically spacious arrangements. In addition to his own recordings, Sam produced "Not There," the nationally acclaimed anti-Wal-Mart benefit CD, and Jane Lewis' debut recording, which features a variety of musical textures including his original score for string quartet. With the completion of AT HOME, he will now set his sights on preproduction for Lewis' piano-based follow-up.
Through his various incarnations, Sam has opened for Big Sugar and Ron Sexsmith; backed up harmonica virtuoso Carlos Del Junco; jammed with Blackie and the Rodeo Kings; shared the stage with numerous acclaimed artists, including Coco Love Alcorn, Jeff Bird (Cowboy Junkies), Brian Blain, Jon Brooks, Wendell Ferguson, Eliza Gilkyson, Marianne Girard, Eve Goldberg, James Gordon, Chris MacLean, Catherine McInnes, Don Ross, Tannis Slimmon, The Sultans of String, Jude Vadala, Suzie Vinnick, and Katherine Wheatley.
At present Sam appears in various ensemble arrangements from solo acoustic to full 5-piece band, and most often with his partner Jane Lewis. Co-leader of the All Together Now music series, Sam's songs and performances dissolve the performer/audience barrier, making him a natural leader for Gospel workshops and singalongs.
Slide guitar is Sam's favourite technique. Originating in Africa and Asia and settling into the Mississippi delta, this method consists of sliding a glass or metal tube over the strings of the guitar. To increase the harmonic potential, slide players often "open-tuned" their guitars to a standard chord. Sam prefers this approach and uses open D, open E, and a root-to-root open G.
Sam prefers the robust character of acoustic guitars, the favourites being his National Estralita Deluxe Resonator (tuned to D), and his early 70s Yamaha FG-300, (tuned to G). When an electric is required (as in the recording of Sinner's Child) he grabs his weird and wonderful late-60s, hand-painted, modified Teisco Gengakki Telecaster.
Sam grew up in the 1950s surrounded by the sounds of top-40 pop, big band jazz, and rock 'n' roll. But in December 1963, he heard a sound coming from a transistor radio that changed everything-The Beatles. He quickly learned drums and then guitar, playing in basement bands and early blues-rock groups, which led him to the roots of rock 'n' roll-African-American blues and gospel.
The simplicity, emotion, dynamics, harmony, and inclusive character of gospel now inspires Sam's music more than anything else, although the melodic and compositional brilliance of The Beatles is a close second!
Slide guitar influences: Ry Cooder, Lowell George, David Lindley, George Harrison
Gospel influences: The Staples Singers, Mavis Staples, Blind Boys of Alabama, Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Blues influences: Robert Johnson, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGee, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Albert King, Eric Clapton, Taj Mahal.
Roots R&B and Soul influences: Dr. John, Little Feat, James Brown, Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave.
Melodic and Lyrical influences: The Band, Jackson Brown, Bruce Cockburn, Ray Davies, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Lyle Lovett, Paul McCartney, Joni Mitchell, John Prine, Paul Simon, Sting, James Taylor, Pete Townsend.