Born and raised in San Francisco, Sam Chase’s passion for music began when his father sang him to sleep every night with renditions of his favorite songs.
“So the first time I ever heard Dylan, Paul Simon, Buffy Sainte-Marie, were through his raucous interpretations,” Chase recalled. “I thought he wrote them long after I was old enough to know better. Even though that made quite an impression on me, I didn’t think that music was my calling until I found Nirvana, grunge and punk rock.”
Today, Chase and his band — which he lovingly refers to as The Untraditional — take to stages all over the country to perform folk rock ’n’ roll. The seven-piece rock Americana band features Chase on vocals, cellist Devon McClive, bassist Dave Rapa, drummer Ted Desmarais and keyboardist Debbie Neigher, as well as trumpeter Joshua James Jackson and guitarist Nikko Rios. The band comes to Ojai this weekend to perform at Dancing Oak Ranch as part of the Ojai Concert Series.
“Ojai Concert Series was started to support live music,” said Shane Butler, founder, along with his wife, Kelli, of the popular music series. “We do the summer shows at our house; we can hold around 300 people and they’re pretty popular. We’ve been doing these shows for 10 years and we give all the profits to the band. We give everything to the musicians.”
Chase noted that “Our shows are like a party where there is no host. But, there is a loud-ass dude with a microphone — he’s harmless.”
Dubbing his band The Sam Chase & The Untraditional (and no, that first “the” is not a typo), Chase and company have made a big splash on the Bay Area music scene. In 2013 and 2014, the group was named best band in the annual SF Weekly readers poll. It also won the best singer-songwriter category in the 2013 SF Bay Guardian “Best of the Bay.”
The first studio album, Will Lead Us To Victory, was released in 2012, taking the musicians all across these United States and back to their home in the Bay Area. The demand came for more, so the band wrote and prepared another album, Will Never Die, which was released in late May of 2013. Other albums created by the band include Great White Noise, Testicular Fortitude and Hella Solo.
“Some songs are drinking songs, some are sad songs, some are joyous, some adventurous, but all of them come from an honest place,” Chase said. “I feel that listeners don’t give enough credit to their internal bullshit radar. Most people can tell when a song doesn’t come from an honest place. What I lack in just about every other aspect of songwriting, I think I make up for in honesty.”
Chase further emphasized that “This music is who I am.”
“This music is basically what allows me to be a functioning member of society,” he said. “When I am writing, its purpose is to allow me the time to sit and reflect about the things in my life that deserve introspection.”
“We all have those things that help us step away from the constant blah blah blah of our exciting social lives and reflect on the ever more neglected inner self,” Chase continued. “So a lot of the music comes from a very personal place. I feel one of the reasons why people like it, is because it allows the listener to embrace their own personal place through mine, and know that there is safety in the song.”
As a musical artist, “I want to do good things for people,” Chase added. “This is the skill that I can give back as long as people want it. If I can use this skill to help people, that makes me feel good. The more time that I am spending writing songs and singing them, the less time I am somewhere else causing a lot more trouble.”
“We roll pretty deep with incredibly talented and fun-loving musicians,” Chase added. “We all are just looking for a good time with good people. If that’s your bag, come on out and join us.”
The Sam Chase and The Untraditional perform on Saturday, Sept. 9., at 6 p.m. at Dancing Oak Ranch, 4585 Casitas Pass Road, Ventura. For tickets and more information, call 665-8852 or visit www.ojaiconcertseries.com.