Olive Street Presents Sam Baker

Interview edited for clarity. Aired on KRPS on Tuesday November 2, 2021.

FRED FLETCHER-FIERRO (Host) : It’s Morning Edition on KRPS, I’m Fred Fletcher-Fierro. Austin, Texas based singer songwriter. Sam Baker is performing at the Bill and Dottie Theater inside of the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts Friday, November 12th at 7pm. Joining me this morning is Rob Poole and Carol Puckett, of Olive Street House Concerts. You’ve got a new name though.

Radio edited interview
Extended, edited interview
Sam Baker

ROB POOLE (GUEST) : We do. And that’s Olive Street Presents.

FRED : And that’s the first thing I was going to ask. I put the old name in there because maybe people recognize your old name. You had that name for a long time.

ROB :Yes. We’ve had that for more than 10 years. Olive Street House concerts was a hobby that we started in the, it has now grown into Olive Street Presents, which is an official not-for-profit.

FRED : And I was gonna ask, why the change?

ROB : Olive Street Presents was kind of our pandemic project. We had some downtime. We weren’t traveling obviously. And had talked a long time about the possibility of elevating the presence of bringing music to Pittsburg. One of the things, you know, with Olive Street House concerts, it’s a very limited audience.

It’s in our living room. So 40 people is very cozy and we had the thoughts of how we can bring that, bring what we do to a larger audience. One of the ways that we needed to do that was to, we felt if we formed a not-for-profit that would give us opportunities to, to partner with other organizations such as the Bicknell Theater.

FRED : Right. And it’s still going to be only 230 people. I think that’s what the Bill and Dottie Theater seats. So it’s still pretty intimate.

ROB : Yes. And actually, that works to our advantage. We would be thrilled to have 200 people attending. I don’t anticipate that will be the case. However, part of the magic of house concerts is the intimacy to be right there with the performer. And there’s a, there’s a visceral interaction between performer and audience that you just don’t get on a greater stage.

FRED : I agree having gone to many performances at the Bicknell Center is sitting in the front row or first two rows, I can look at the performer right in the eyes.

ROB : Absolutely. And with Sam, that is part of the magic of his shows is he very much connects with the audience.

FRED : I hope so. So tell us about Sam Baker. Be honest with you before this concert. I’d never heard of him.

CAROL : Sam has played at our house before, you know, so we have really become friends with him over the years. We have seen him perform in a variety of venues from Kansas City to Oklahoma City. And he is just a stellar performer and he has quite an amazing history.

If you have read anything about him or have listened to his NPR interview with Terry Gross, it’s just an amazing story. And he is such a grateful spiritual man. And all of that comes out in his music and his songs, you know, it will just, it’s just a night to remember forever.

ROB : We think the one of the things that’s really great about Sam and I’ll tell my own history here is the first time I saw him was probably at the Folk Alliance in Kansas City many years ago. And I went into that concert a little apprehensive because I knew his story. I thought this is going to be dark. You know, because his songs are often about downtrodden people in life experiences. And in some of his songs, either reflect back to his experience, being a bomb victim.

And so I went into that show a little apprehensive and 20 or 30 seconds in, and I was absolutely won over. You know, it was just full of joy and energy. And as Carol said, this, this very evident appreciation of life and celebration of life. And in, in the goodness in the world.

FRED : You know, one of the things I love about this conversation is I can tell when you speak of him, you’re speaking with him, not somebody you’re promoting. This is a friend of yours.

ROB : Yeah, absolutely. He’s actually played in Pittsburg twice. Years ago he played a solo show at our house. And then back right before Block 22 really opened up, we did a show at the Colonial Fox Theater with him and that’s why he’s back now is, he had such a great time in Pittsburg that they’re just coming out of the pandemic.

Sam, you know, hunkered down in Texas and his band is all over the country and they’re just now kind of getting ready to get back on the road for shows. And they had such a great experience in Pittsburg, Kansas the first time, his tour manager called us up and said, “Hey, Sam was looking to do a show. Would you want to do something with us?” And I said, “since you’ve been here before, have I got a theater for you!” And so that’s what got the balls rolling.

I talked with Joe and Shauna at the Bicknell Center for the Arts and they graciously said, ”let’s do it.” So, here we go.

(Sam Baker playing Go In Peace, Daytrotter Session record on 10/12/2017 airs for 1:17)

FRED : Singer/Songwriter Sam Baker performing Go In Peace in 2017. Olive Street Presents Sam Baker, at the Bill and Dottie Miller Theater at the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts. Friday November 12 at 7 pm.

I was speaking with Rob Poole and Carol Puckett of Olive Street Presents about the non-profit and Sam’s upcoming performance. I want to thank Rob and Carol for their time in coming to the studio to speak with me. You can hear that interview again or the I’ve got the link for Olive Street Presents and Sam’s concert at krpsnews.com

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