Sam Morgan

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Multi-instrumentalist Sam Morgan has recorded sporadically during close to half a century in the music business, including a 1978 folk-rock project toiled over with Dave Mattacks of Fairport Convention.…
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Multi-instrumentalist Sam Morgan has recorded sporadically during close to half a century in the music business, including a 1978 folk-rock project toiled over with Dave Mattacks of Fairport Convention. One of Morgan's earlier bands, named Hickory Wind in honor of the heart-wrenching country ballad by Gram Parsons, recorded its first album back in 1973 for Adelphi and reunited for more activity in 2002. In between, Morgan has been featured in a variety of genres and contexts, most often on the mandolin and fiddle. While he is sometimes associated with old-timey or Appalachian music, Morgan is quite typical of string players of his generation in having an outlook that goes well beyond the shadow of these pale blue mountains. Thus, Morgan has also been heard playing jazz, sambas, and Italian mandolin music, sometimes in the course of the same set.

It all began, typically enough, with piano lessons at the age of eight. In his teen years he began playing guitar in local rock bands with his brother Bert Morgan, an avocation that could keep one quite busy in a college rock mecca such as Morgantown, WV. In 1972 Sam Morgan officially became a fiddler, breezing into the formation of Hickory Wind, which eventually included players such as singer Mark Walbridge and bassist Glen McCarty. Several years later Morgan relocated to the environs of Washington, D.C., a locale that he would eventually return to following a Pacific Northwest stint and an enormous amount of international travel, some of which was at the behest of State Department touring cultural programs.

Busking in Sweden with local folk and rock players, formal studies at North Seattle Community College and Evergreen State College, accompanying clogging ensembles such as the Wet Apple Cloggers and the Stump Jumpers, and even more government-sanctioned globe-hopping were all aspects of Morgan's rich artistic life in the '80s. By the end of that decade he was back in Washington, D.C., and had begun a collaboration with bandleader Dave Obey, at that point a Congressman. In the early '90s Morgan took part in an unusual ensemble accompanying Sam Shepard's play entitled A Lie of the Mind, an assignment that had previously been taken on by North Carolina's Red Clay Ramblers.