Samantha Fish, with support from Sgt. Splendor, Reels In the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta, Georgia, on Thursday, April 25, 2024


Located in the eclectic downtown Atlanta neighborhood of Little Five Points, the Variety Playhouse welcomed Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter/guitarist Samantha Fish to town on Thursday night. Supporting Fish on this leg of her Bulletproof Tour was Sgt. Splendor, a band that features musicians Eric McFadden and Kate Vargas. Established in 1940, this converted World War II-era movie theater has been a local cornerstone of live entertainment for decades, with an enjoyable mix of raised, theater-style reserved seats set directly behind a large general admission floor for flexible audience viewing of their favorite touring artists.

With the early crowd still shuffling into the venue, McFadden and Vargas took to the stage at 8:00 pm with only their acoustic guitars in hand. Joking that they left their band back in Poughkeepsie, McFadden and Vargas charmingly story-told their personal history together while acoustically delivering a 40-minute performance showcasing their indie rock sound and impressive songwriting skills.

Vargas’ vocals seamlessly shifted from graceful to gritty throughout their set, while McFadden put on an impressive demonstration of proving you can actually shred on an acoustic guitar. I particularly enjoyed “Freakification,” the first song the duo ever wrote together, as well as the recently released “Death Of The Hoochie Koo,” which concluded their night. For those local to the Atlanta area, the couple also announced that the full Sgt. Splendor band will be returning to town on Sunday, May 12th, to perform at Boggs Social & Supply with The Ladies of… Featuring James Hall.


Sgt. Splendor:

Eric McFadden – Guitar, Vocals
Kate Vargas – Guitar, Vocals



Following a quick stage turn and with her Stogie Blues Cigar Box guitar in hand, the leather-clad Fish lead her band out at 9:00pm and immediately launched into the catchy “Bulletproof,” the opening track from her sixth studio album, Kill or Be Kind (2019). I have somehow continued to miss Fish on her prior Atlanta appearances, so Thursday night was circled in permanent marker on my calendar – and she did not disappoint.

Supported by Jamie Douglass (drums), Ron Johnson (bass), and Rob Kellner (keyboards), Fish took her adoring fans on a nearly two-hour journey of bluesy rock pleasure. Simply put, her soulful and seductive vocals melted my heart Thursday night, while her frequently changing guitar tones tantalized my ear drums. Her originals in “Wild Heart” and “Better Be Lonely” shined an early light on her wide-ranging songwriting style abilities. Fish also showcased her softer side with an acoustic-only segment mid-set with a cover performance of “If I Were Your Woman” by “Georgia’s own,” as she acknowledged, Gladys Knight.

While the back half of Fish’s set was an enjoyable mix of originals and covers, “Need You More” from her 2017 release Belle of the West was the tune that hit me the hardest. It was soft, emotional, and Fish’s vocal delivery was just captivating and dreamy. Much to the audience’s delight, the finale of the band’s main set was the hip-swaying, bluesy rocker tune “Black Wind Howlin’.” Following a quick break, Fish and her band returned to the stage for a two-song encore, putting an exclamation on the night by inviting McFadden and Vargas back to the stage to help lead the crowd through a chorus sing-along of fan favorite “Bitch on the Run.”

Fish will be staying busy on the road through September, so you should have ample opportunities to catch her. She is currently scheduled to perform at various Bulletproof Tour stops with a variety of artists, including fellow Death Wish Blues (2023) album collaborator Jesse Dayton, and legendary guitarist Buddy Guy. She also recently announced eight July appearances on Slash’s S.E.R.P.E.N.T Festival coming this summer, along with two confirmed September date performances on The Experience Hendrix 2024 Tour. Gather your crew!



Samantha Fish – Guitar, Vocals
Jamie Douglass – Drums
Ron Johnson – Bass
Rob Kellner – Keyboards




1.) Bulletproof
2.) Wild Heart
3.) Better Be Lonely
4.) Chills and Fever (Johnny Love & His Orchestra cover)
5.) Poor Black Mattie (R.L. Burnside cover)
6.) Kill or Be Kind
7.) Watch It Die
8.) Jim Lee Blues, Part 1 (Charley Patton cover – acoustic)
9.) If I Were Your Woman (Gladys Knight & the Pips cover – acoustic)
10.) Need You More
11.) Somebody’s Always Tryin’ (Ted Taylor cover)
12.) Never Gonna Cry (The Cineemas cover)
13.) Dream Girl
14.) Black Wind Howlin’

15.) I Put a Spell on You (Screamin’ Jay Hawkins cover)
16.) Bitch on the Run









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