Mighty Sam McClain
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Mighty Sam McClain

Exeter, New Hampshire, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | INDIE

Exeter, New Hampshire, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2015
Band Blues R&B


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Mighty Sam McClain Prowls Stage"


Jun. 24, 2003. 01:00 AM

Mighty Sam prowls cage


If you can imagine actor James Earl Jones cast as a benign Baptist pastor negotiating a jagged song line between prayer and profanity, between the glory of spiritual salvation and the seductive delights of carnal love, you'll have some idea of the effect 60-year-old Louisiana gospel soul veteran Mighty Sam McClain created Sunday night at his debut Toronto appearance on the Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival's main stage in Nathan Phillips Square.

Dressed in a full length white mourning coat, white, high-collared shirt and waistcoat, magnificently bald and menacingly tall, McClain held court for a solid 90 minutes, serving up a mixed bag of testifying sermons, songs of praise and gratitude, blues-tinged gospel refrains, soulful ballads about love aroused and love thwarted, and even some rock-hard funk.

It was a riveting performance by a master at the very top of his game.

He was backed admirably by a tight and flexible seven-piece band (three horns, guitar, bass, drums and keyboards — all white guys dressed in black) that stylishly worked into the set every subtle nuance and inflection in the soul survivor's groove book from A-Z, ranging in intensity from a sexy whisper to a mighty roar.

If Toronto's not all that familiar with McClain — the 483 tickets bought for this performance left the big tent more than half-empty — this veteran's rich voice and powerful presence moved the crowd like an elemental force.

From the Big Joe Williams-inspired rocker "If It Wasn't 4 Da Blues" and the defiant tone in the soul hymn "New Man In Town," to the plaintive sob that made the funereal hurtin' ballad "Why Do We Have To Say Goodbye?" so memorable — Al Green might have taken lessons from this man — and the tough, guttural baritone that powered the finale, an extended soul version of the Doobie Brothers' 1973 hit "Long Train Runnin," McClain moved through half a dozen genres with ease and confidence, and around the stage as if it were a confining cage whose boundaries he might easily have broken.

In fact, it was his earnest commitment to the central idea and character in every song that carried the show forward, and dispelled any lingering ghost of the promising Sam McClain of the soul-addled 1960s who, after an unhappy childhood at the hands of a destructive stepfather, faded into drunkenness, drug addiction and the streets of Pensacola, Fla. for most of the 1970s and '80s.

Lost now in the wonder of a life reclaimed, happy in a long marriage and "a small home in New Hampshire," McClain is able to sing out his gratitude and testify to the strength of his religious faith in every song. He's a wonder to behold, a living archive of southern soul music and all its folk, blues, church and dance-hall strains, and a singer possessed of one mighty set of pipes.
Additional articles by Greg Quill

- Toronto Star

"Mighty Sam McClain Lives the Blues"

By Susan L. Pena
Reading Eagle

City Park was filled with the sounds of praise and pain Friday night as Mighty Sam McClain and his band performed in the weekly Wachovia Bandshell Concert Series, presented by the Berks Arts Council.

After an opening by the six musicians who make up his band (trombone, trumpet, guitar, bass, drums and keyboard), McClain, resplendent in a formal white three-piece suit, hit the stage for a non-stop concert of blues and soul.

New Orleans born and New Hampshire based, McClain has a gorgeous voice that is by turns chocolatey-smooth and stylishly raspy, with a tremendous range. He is backed by an everchanging collection of musicians; Friday’s lineup was exceptional, with a soaring brass section and guitarist who matched McClain in expressiveness and color, ranging from dark and husky to a stratospheric wail.

McClain, whether in conversation or in concert, lays his cards on the table right away: He is a man of deep faith, and his songs and speech are sprinkled with expression of that faith and gratitude to God.

His first song, “Jesus Christ Got The Blues,” was a slow, gospel-tinged blues with a calm, persistent beat, contemplating Christ’s suffering on the cross. While not all of his songs are overtly religious, many of them emphasize the power of love and faith.

Two of the songs were heartfelt tributes to his wife Sandra: “Can’t Nobody Ever Take Your Place” and “Thank You”.

He sang samples from his new independent CD, “One More Bridge To Cross,” including covers by Joe Hardin (“Why Do We Have To Say Goodbye?”) and James Montgomery (“If It Wasn’t 4 Da Blues”).

And of course, he included his own “There’s a New Man in Town,” which was used for 12 episodes of the TV show “Ally McBeal.”

Most of the tunes were original, demonstrating McClain’s considerable gift for song writing.

The evening was a feast for blues lovers, and the sound was excellent.
- Reading Eagle, Reading, PA

"One More Bridge To Cross"

“Few singers on the current scene blend the sensual and the spiritual as effortlessly as Mighty Sam McClain; Solomon Burke and Otis Clay come to mind, but neither has released anything comparable to McClain’s prolific output in the past decade. His transcendent music blurs the distinction between the sacred and the secular. McClain thinks One More Bridge To Cross is his best album. Amen to that.
-Blues Revue, Thomas J. Cullen III
- Blues Revue / excerpt

"Soul-blues doesn’t get much better"

Soul-blues doesn’t get much better than this. On “Why We Have To Say Goodbye,” the opening track to Mighty Sam McClain’s latest recording, the singer’s powerful, aching voice – which occasionally echoes that of his hero Bobby Blue Bland, especially when he lets loose with that raspy glottal cry and bellows “why, why, why, why, why” at song’s end – plumbs the very depths of loss and despair, creating that rare, cathartic magic that lovers of soul-blues crave with almost sadistic longing. One More Bridge To Cross is McClain’s declaration of independence. A tremendously powerful and personal reflection from one of the best soul –blues practitioners alive, One More Bridge To Cross is evidence that McClain picked the right producer.
-City Link, Bob Weinberg
- City Link, Ft. Lauderdale, FL



This is a preview of Sam’s latest recording with Jim MacDougall and the Funky Divas of Gospel…and rapper Jesse Lannoo. The feel is modern and up funk like the latest Neville Brothers CD “Can’t Stop the Funk”; “Lift Me Up” comes across like a two hand finger snap…powerful gospel...so true of how we really need God’s help. “Never Go Away” is a slowburn with moody Miles Davis style trumpet...this jazz feel continues with the guitarist playing a wonderful rocking octave tribute to the great Wes Montgomery.

Sam brings a John Lee Hooker boogie to “What You Want Me To Do” then Jesse raps very deep, very thoughtfully (I was reminded of the time Radio BFM played a Burning Spear rap of the same sort of depth… and the DJ said too many people think rap is about dissing, money and sex… but there are rappers out there with a deeper message - like Jesse). “Just Wanna Be” features a wonderful keyboard player in the style of the great Bobby Scott (of the Quincy Jones Orchestra)…his solo is a thing of great beauty. “Free” has a wonderful jazzfunk feel...backgrounding a rap by Jesse about what freedom is all about. “Be Ready When Jesus Comes” is a soul dance of celebration. This CD is a good investment for Sam’s singing and songwriting (many songs co-written with Pat Herlehy) and all the guest artists he gives solo Space too.

Once upon a time I was down in the depths of depression. I know to the depths of my inner soul that the bland easy listening music played on Auckland’s Christian radio stations could not have helped. What did was the real gospel music…Mighty Sam, Aretha Franklin, Al Green, and John Coltrane…it still does. Thank you.
Check out www.mightysam.com

Geoffrey Totton


"Mighty Sam McClain - Blues for the Soul"

by Todd Warnke

Musical Performance
Recording Quality
Overall Enjoyment

The album title says blues and soul, but the real message is pure gospel. And what a fully conceived and powerfully delivered message it is. McClain has shown great taste in cover tunes on his previous albums (Carlene Carter, Al Green), but here we get his complete vision as half the 12 tunes are written by Mighty Sam alone, while the others are co-written with bandmates, or, on "Battlefield of Love," with his wife, Sandra. And each track is a different take on the importance of love and God.

I know, you read "love and God" and thought Al Green. Think again. And don’t think Al clone, because Mighty Sam is carving out his own space. In Green’s world, love and God are two separate things that often are joined, while in Mighty Sam’s they are different facets of the same idea. So when McClain sings a song to his woman, he sings to her about God. The result is less steamy than an Al Green song, but no less heartfelt.

That heartfelt need to share his feelings about God and our obligation to love each other are the roots of every song. On the album’s centerpiece, the almost-eight-minute "Jesus Got The Blues," when McClain sings about his father’s pain when he hears us say "he don’t even exist," the ache is palpable, as is McClain’s devotion. "Dark Side of the Street" is a plea for understanding, while "Battlefiled of Love" is a reminder that to love is not the easy choice. But the best and purest distillation of Mighty Sam’s message is the chorus from "Love One Another," which simply states that, "We got to love one another, even when we got the blues."

Musically, McClain plays the Saturday-night sound and Sunday-morning lyrical juxtaposition perfectly. The "Mighty Horns," Walter Platt and Joe Casano on trumpet, Chuck Langford on tenor and Kenny Wenzel on trombone, play on all 12 tracks. Their tight, light-heavyweight punch provide the call-and-response choir. Bruce Katz plays piano on all tracks except for "Battlefield of Love," where he jumps to the B-3. Barry Seleen adds B-3 elsewhere. Tim Ingles marks time on bass, while Jim Arnold provides a steady hand on drums. But the centerpiece is Mighty Sam’s vocals, which are laid out not with the simple faith of the untested, but with the power, the majesty and the humility of true and tested belief.

This powerhouse album of soul and gospel is essential music. Believer or not, when Mighty Sam sings, the message is universal.

- Soundstage.com

"One More Bridge To Cross"

Mighty Sam McCLain

Mighty Music 101

“One More Bridge To Cross”” sees Mighty Sam on his own label, handling production for the first time and fronting his mostly new and very classy band. Nine of the dozen songs are written or co-written by the singer; two come from the pen of Joe Hardin, who had sent them to Malaco for consideration of Bobby Bland recording them.

He did n’t, so they were sent to Sam McClain. Good Job too, for “Why Do We Have To Say Goodbye” makes for a terrific opener – nobody has a ballad as lead track unless it’s a killer.

McClain is in Bland mode here – note the capital “B”. Will I get hate mail if I suggest that the 60-year old perhaps surpasses his 73-year-old mentor’s current form?

Hardin’s other contribution, “Been There, Done That” is also a ballad of high quality, as is McClain and Rick Baxter’s “Most of All” “Open Up Heavens Dorr” (McClain) is as the title suggests, pure Gospel.

. On the mid-tempo side, “Witness”, “If It Wasn’t For the Blues” and the funky title track are particularly notable. A few “fillers” in the second half make it a somewhat inconsistent set, but the high-spots more than compensate. And the fact that there is fifty-plus minutes of top quality music here merits a rating of 9.
Jon Taylor

- Blues in Britain

"McClain’s soul blues"

Frank Hadley
May 2003

World-class vocalist McClain’s soul blues is always in the service of the Man Upstairs, and his first self-produced album runneth over with heated expressions of the inner strength he derives from an intractable faith. For McClain, “love” is the cornerstone of a personal theism he shares trustingly with listeners through originals (most just fine) and interpretations of two songs originally intended for Bobby Bland. When McClain takes a breather, the soloists pull things down into ordinariness
- Downbeat Magazine


Betcha Didn't Know -- Miaghty Music -2005
One More Bridge To Cross --Mighty Music - 2003
Sweet Dreams - Telarc- 2001
Blues For The Soul - Telarc - 2000
Malaco - Mr & Mrs Untrue / boxed set - 2000
Mighty Sam, Papa True Love, The Amy Sessions
Sundazed - 2000
Soul Survivor- The Best of Mighty Sam - AQ - 1999
Joy and Pain- Live- CrossCut Records - 1998
Journey - AQ Music - 1998
Keep On Movin - JVC/CRX - 1997
Give It Up To Love - JVC/CRX - 1997
Sledgehammer Soul & Down Home Blues - Song lists from most recent workAQ -1996
Keep On Movin - AQ Music - 1995
Blues Master - AQ Music - 1995
Give It Up To Love- AQ Music- 1993
Mighty Sam -Nothing But The Truth - Charley- 1988
Hubert Sumlilns Blues Party - Black Top - 1988
Live In japan - Dead Ball - 1986
Your Perfect Companion - Orleans - 1986
Mighty Soul, Mighty Sam - Soul City - 1984
Malaco Best Collection - 1980
Pray/ Dancin to the Music of Love- Orleans - 1994
Mr. & Mrs. Untrue/Never Too Busy - Malaco- 1971
Evil Woman/Your Love is Amazing - Atlantic -1970
I've Got Enough Heartaches/ Lovebones- Atlantic 1970
I Who Have Nothing/Papa True Love - Amy - 1968
I Just Came To Get My Baby Out of Jail/ Baby Come On Home - Amy-1968
When She Touches Me / Just Like Old Times -
Amy- 1967
In The Same Old Way/ Silent Tears- Amy - 1967
Talk To Me/ Need A Lot Of Lovin- Amy- 1967
I'm A Man/ Georgia Pines - Amy - 1966
Fannie May/Badmouthin - Amy - 1966
Sweet Dreams / Your Good Humor Man- Amy -1966



Mighty Sam McClain's early success was in the mid-sixties with Don Gibson's, "Sweet Dreams". It propelled this small town Louisiana boy to a stint at the Apollo Theatre. He recorded singles at Muscle Schoals Fame studio--"Fannie May", "In the Same Old Way" and many others on the Amy, Atlantic, Malaco and Bell labels. Moving from Nashville to New Orleans in successive years found him doing menial jobs, sleeping outdoors and selling his plasma to survive. The Neville Brothers were instrumental in giving him a base to regroup and a invitation to do a tour in Japan in1989 set him on track again. The resulting "Live In Japan" is a much sought after recording. An invitation to be on a Hubert Sumlin project in the early 90's increased his visability. But not until his move to New England (Boston) in 1992 did he get a solid band under him and presented his music "Give It Up To Love" to Joe Harley at AudioQuest Records. He went on to record four additional CDs for them and two CDs for Telarc when AQ folded "Blues for the Soul" (2000) and "Sweet Dreams" in 2001. With international and national appearances he has built a following, especially since his 1998 song, "New Man in Town" ("Journey"- 1998) was used in 12 episodes of David Kelley's "Ally McBeal". Presently Sam operates McClain Productions from his home in Epping, NH and released his first solo production, "One More Bridge To Cross" in 2003. Since then he has released, "Betcha Didn't Know" and "Too Much Jesus (Not Enough Whiskey) which was nominated in 2013 by the Blues Foundation as "Song & Album of hte Year" and Mighty Sam as "Soul/Blues Male Artist".

 His international work inclludes two CDs  produced by Erik Hillestad "Scent of Reunion -- Love Duets Acrross Civilizations" & "Deeper Tone of Longing -- Love Duets Across Civilizations". Both duets with Mahs Vadhat, Iranian folk singer . She sings in Farsi and Sam sings in , well, "sam". He has also recorded two CDs with the music arranger of the mentioned CDs. Master guitar innovater a, Knut Reiersrud and Mighty Sam Recorded "One Dropo is Plent" in 2012 and just recorded, "Friends Living in the Key of G" to be released in August 2016,

"The Soul of Americal" is his European title, but he is, just as the lyrics he wrote, "I'm a singer, a man with a song...and I've got a message for you"