© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Central Standard

Kansas City Sisters Amanda And Samantha Fish Sing The Blues

Andrea Tudhope
Sisters Amanda Fish, left, and Samantha Fish come together to talk about their separate music careers.

Growing up, Amanda Fish used to lock herself in her room to sing. So, her younger sister Samantha Fish would lock herself in her room and play guitar.

"We were independent experiencers," Amanda says.

"She calls it a loner thing, I call it a leader thing," Samantha adds.

Fast-forward through the days of wailing with Tom Waits and rocking out to Nine-Inch Nails, and these two musicians are, sure enough, leading their own blues bands around Kansas City and across the country.

The Amanda Fish Band performs regularly around town, and singer-guitarist Samantha Fish has been recording albums and touring nationally since 2009. Both produce blues rock, but each has her own twist.

"They're completely different animals," Amanda says of their music. "Sam's is folky, and blues, singer-songwriter classic rock. Mine is funky."

While both draw heavily from personal experience, Samantha says she puts things down as they come along, and that by the end, the product may have strayed a great deal from that initial personal moment. Amanda's approach, on the other hand, may have an influence on what her sister describes as "torchy" and "driving" in her style.

"I keep things inside until I can't stand it anymore and then I write it down," Amanda says.

They both identify greatly with the blues, which they can partially credit to their parents. Their mother was their church choir instructor while they were young, and their father jammed on guitar with his friends. At an early age, they were exposed to Bonnie Raitt and Stevie Ray Vaughan before they branched out into rock with Tom Petty and the Rolling Stones, to name a few.

But they both remember rediscovering and falling in love with the blues during their teenage years.

"Everybody struggles, every family's got drama, everybody has something to get off their chest," Samantha says. "The blues, where it came from, it was something to alleviate the pain of racial oppression back in the day. It's still true now. It's an honest form of music. It's an American art form."

Andrea Tudhope is an award-winning multimedia journalist based in Kansas City, Missouri. She is currently coordinating producer for America Amplified, a national public media community engagement initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.