The Long, Lonesome Road
Sam Friend, 28, is a singer-songwriter, guitarist, banjoist, composer, arranger, and bandleader known for his command of the blues, rock, funk, and traditional jazz. Based in New Orleans and hailing from New Rochelle, N.Y., he interned at Jazz at Lincoln Center and received a degree in musical composition from Amherst College, composing and performing a 40-minute jazz suite, “The One of Us,” for 40 musicians, including big-band, nonet, and acapella.
In 2012, Friend co-founded the New Orleans Swamp Donkeys Traditional Jass Band with trumpet player and vocalist James Williams, also featuring Wes Anderson IV (Quad) on Tuba, Jon Ramm on Trombone, and Joshua Jams Marotta on Drums. The band gained renown at the NOLA JazzFest and at jazz festivals around the world, including North Sea, Ascona, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Le Sporting Monte-Carlo, and the Edinburgh Blues and Jazz Festival. The band has released two albums (Swamp Donkey, Donkey Business), sold out New York's Blue Note and B.B. King's, and created a viral Game of Thrones video, which has drawn over 1 million viewers. The band frequently tours throughout the US and abroad.
During the summer of 2014, Friend was a guest on Michael Feinstein’s NPR program, “Song Travels.” His compositions have graced NCIS: New Orleans, CBS’s “The Early Show,” and VanityFair.com. Friend has toured with Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, and he has played and recorded with Trombone Shorty, James 12 Andrews, the Treme Brass Band, the late Travis Trumpet Black Hill, among a variety of other local talents. You can find him sharing the stage with a plethora of revered musicians throughout New Orleans and New York.