"Here’s why open mics are important to me,” says Sam Bybee. “Fifteen years ago, there wasn’t much in the way of outlets for artists of any kind who were welcome to come and hone their craft. Only a handful of places would offer stage time at all. These places became my everything. It was on these stages that I learned how to and how not to be a musician. I would spend all week practicing for hours on end for this precious stage time that you would be lucky to get, on account of there being 60 other hungry artists hoping for the same. These open mics shaped me as a person and an artist and helped launch my career as a professional musician.”
The 36-year-old grew up in San Diego, beginning his musical persona as an Americana-inclined solo singer-songwriter by night while running an upscale bakery during the daytime. He was still baking cakes when his solo album I Hate Pretty Girls was released, around the same time that he teamed up with singer Sandi King for an acoustic duo called 22 Kings. The pair released a debut album in 2014 and mounted several successful tours over the next two years, including performances at NAMM and SXSW. They also recorded with Alex Wong, producer of Delta Rae’s “Carry the Fire,” before parting musical company earlier this year, with Bybee returning to his solo roots while King plays frequently around town in the King Taylor Project with Joshua Taylor.
“Here’s how I’d describe my music,” explains Bybee. “I like to say it’s like Mumford and Sons meets Foy Vance. So, if a gospel singer joined an Americana band, that would be me.” Among his cited influences are the Lumineers, Paul Simon, Jim Croce, James Taylor, Harry Chapin, and local coffeehouse crooner Jason Mraz.
...by Sam Bybee
Sam Bybee will perform a solo set on January 16 at De Oro Mine Company in Spring Valley. You can also catch him hosting the Monday-night Open Mic Grab at 98 Bottles, where he frequently primes the crowd with a few numbers of his own. “All you need is an instrument, 20 minutes of material, and guts to let it shine.”
WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO?
“My favorite CD right now is Foy Vance’s Wild Swan. His songwriting is a combination of Irish folk and modern pop. His mix of uplifting songs and heart-wrenching lyrics makes for an amazing experience.”
VIDEO GAME JAM?
“Well, I’m not much of a gamer, but I did recently play Assassin’s Creed and loved running around Paris and causing trouble.”
MAGAZINE YOU GRAB IN THE WAITING ROOM?
“Always National Geographic. I love that stuff.”
“I live in University Heights, but I like to be all over the map, from Alpine to Ocean Beach.”
WHAT MAKES YOU INSECURE?
“Something I’d like to change about myself is my teeth. Thanks to my English roots, my teeth have always given me issues my whole life.”
MOST VISITED WEBSITE?
“It’s got to be Facebook. As a musician, we kind of have to live on there. It’s an invaluable tool.”
EVER GET THE URGE TO KILL?
“The closest time I’ve ever come to killing anyone was when I was stuck in a tiny car for three months on a national tour. It’s amazing no one was murdered.”
BEST THING YOU EVER HAD TO LET GO OF?
“That slippery ice cream cone.”
CRAZIEST WAY TO MAKE MONEY?
“Music. I still can’t believe people actually pay me to do this.”
WHAT REMAINS ON YOUR BUCKET LIST?
“Travel the world.”
YOUR BEST PICKUP LINE?
- Monday, January 16, 2017, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
De Oro Mine Co,
9924 Campo Road,
SONG THAT BEST DESCRIBES YOUR LIFE?
“‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy,’ by Bobby McFerrin. I believe that just trying to be happy can actually make you happy.”
BRUSH WITH FAME?
“I used to house-sit for Kathy Griffin when I lived in L.A.”
SOMETHING USELESS STUCK IN YOUR BRAIN?
“The lyrics to ‘I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles),’ by the Proclaimers. ‘I Would Walk 500 Miles...’”
WHAT’S YOUR POISON?
WHO’S THAT YELLING AT YOU IN THE BACKGROUND?
“My girlfriend. I started answering these questions after telling her we’d go get some food soon.”
OKAY THEN, TELL US SOMETHING THAT FEW WOULD KNOW OR GUESS ABOUT YOU?
“I can juggle like a boss.”