Ken Leighton 12:30 p.m., Feb. 21
RIYL: Roxy Dioxide, Roxy Monoxide, A.M. Forever, Small Faces, Humble Pie, Savoy Brown
- "And Then the Singer Went Crazy..." · April 19, 2017
- "Happy Coincidences" · March 25, 2015
- "Scott Samuels Takes a Fall" · Oct. 31, 2013
Influences: Slade, Sweet, T. Rex, Monkees, Ramones, Paul Kelly, Joan Jett
Singer/guitarist Scott Samuels arrived in San Diego in 1988, and joined a long-established group the Snails (by the time he joined, known as The Rhythm Slaves). For his first local performance, “I had just joined with these three guys, who'd all played together for like thirteen years, and for my first show, we booked a gig at Jose Murphy's, a really cool open air bar in Pacific Beach that's no longer around. The place was packed, and we went over big people didn't want us to stop playing.”
Local shows didn't always go so well. “One of my bands opened for Third Eye Blind at 'Canes, we were a last-minute replacement for the band James, who had cancelled. The show was going very well but, just before the last song, I broke a string. People in the audience shouted at us to keep playing, and I had locking tuners on my guitar that made string changes very easy. So I changed my string very quickly and we played our last song, much to the chagrin of Third Eye Blind's road manager, who was pointing at his watch from the side of the stage. Afterwards, he got in my face and vowed that he would make sure that I never play another show in San Diego, because we had gone five minutes over our scheduled end time.”
In 1995, Samuels teamed up with Kathleen "Kitten" Johnson in the band Pharmacy, which was quickly rechristened Kitten's Pharmacy after a few original members departed. Samuels wrote the band's original material, and recorded and produced their CD Recommended by Doctors, released in 1998.
In 2000, he formed Roxy Monoxide, a power-pop band, with drummer Scott Southwood, bassist Jim Stuart, singer Tracy DeZenzo, and guitarist Michael Rennie. The core of the band, Samuels, Rennie and Southwood, worked together through 2009, when Rennie left the band to be replaced by Dave Gladish. A succession of female singers including Diana Sun and Coree Levee, came and went over the years, leading the band to finally have Samuels assume lead vocals. Prior to Levee's departure in 2009, the band released its CD Another Day Another Episode.
In early 2010, Samuels founded a cover band, A.M. Forever, to perform less-covered songs from the 1960s and 1970s rock charts. That band evolved into Vinyl Pirates, which played monthly at the Chico Club for years.
After playing a farewell gig with Roxy Monoxide in 2010, Bennett and Samuels put together Roxy Dioxide, a covers-oriented band that made its live debut June 16, 2011, at Second Wind Santee.
In early 2013, Samuels told the Reader “I recently left my band Roxy Dioxide to concentrate on a solo acoustic project.” He played solo shows in Chicago and Milwaukee in March 2013, and performed a Listen Local showcase at House of Blues on April 2.
Samuels debuted his Great Big World CD in May 2013 with a release party at Leucadia's Cafe Ipe. “It's a really nice outdoor setting, and I was joined by Coree Levee, the former singer from my Roxy Monoxide band, for a part of the show. That was the first time we'd performed together in three years or so.”
A followup EP, The Fall, was released that November, preceded by the single “If I Could Start Today Again.” “It’s about falling for someone and falling out of romance,” says Samuels.
“It tells the story of a shallow L.A. relationship. The idea came to me when I went up to L.A. for a concert and wound up parking in the garage of shopping center in Beverly Hills. To get to the street, I had to walk through Macy’s, and getting off the elevator, I noticed the Macy’s tailor shop was lined with pictures of the staff there posed with all these celebrities. It got me imagining a guy who works retail in Beverly Hills, and is all about appearances, and a girl who’s forever thinking she’s ‘found the one’ with every shallow, good-looking guy she meets.”
Samuels continued to perform with A.M. Forever, rechristened as the Vinyl Pirates in 2013. His The Fall EP includes a holiday track credited to Scott Samuels & the Vinyl Pirates, the Roy Wood tune “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday.”
His five-song Fabulous Reality EP features the singles “Inconvenient Truth” and “In the Moment.” “Joining me in the studio was my old friend and very talented drummer Scott Southwood, who played alongside me in Roxy Monoxide/Dioxide, and my buddy Kevin Lydy laying down some awesome bass lines.” The EP also includes a ukulele version of Frank and Nancy Sinatra's "Somethin' Stupid."
His CD Live at Uncommon Ground (released September 19, 2014) archives a May 2014 show in Chicago, Illinois, and features bassist Dave Hartmann, along with guests Bill McDowell on electric guitar and Scott Carlton on flute. It includes two never-before-released tunes, “Dumb Things” and “In The Moment.”
“It was recorded as part of a tour I did that started in New Orleans and went all the way up to Minneapolis. It's the third time I've played at Uncommon Ground in the past two years, which has a great Listening Room for acoustic music.”
His fourth album Fabulous Reality, which debuted March 31, 2015 at HOB downtown, features five original tunes and a cover of Gene Loves Jezebel’s “Motion of Love,” with Marie Haddad (vocals, keys, glockenspiel) guesting in a ukulele-centric duet version of Frank and Nancy Sinatra's “Something Stupid.”
“‘Fabulous reality’ was a phrase a high-school English teacher drummed into our heads in a writing class,” says Samuels. “Fabulous realities are special, one-of-a-kind moments that are like strange, happy coincidences that are almost surreal. Like the kind you have when you fall in love with someone.”
Samuels co-produced the first San Diego Big Stir pop music festival on January 30, 2015. "I wanted to put together a power pop show putting together several acts from San Diego that played the San Diego International Pop Overthrow in 2014, sort of a one-night, mini version of that festival, so I invited my friends Steve Rosenbaum and Pete Bayard [Super Buffet] to participate. I approached Larry Fox, owner of the Chico Club, and a great supporter of the power pop scene in San Diego, and he agreed to have his bar host the event, and then Steve Thorn of the San Diego Troubadour, another power pop enthusiast, offered to emcee the show."
The following year's Big Stir festival (Chico Club, February 25) featured a Roxy Monoxide reunion with Scott Samuels, Michael Rennie, Darko Petrovic, and Scott Southwood.
The Vinyl Pirates frontman's new Neil Diamond tribute, Solitary Diamonds, debuted September 1, 2018, at Campland on the Bay. "Through my work with my band Vinyl Pirates, I sort of stumbled on the fact that I can sound a lot like Neil Diamond when performing his tunes. Actually, our drummer, Victor Penalosa, once said half-jokingly, 'We should just play all Neil Diamond songs.' That clicked."