Sam Cassidy
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Sam Cassidy

Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014

Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Rock Americana


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos




If Sam Cassidy got a haircut, he and Ron Swanson from “Parks and Recreation” could totally bro out. The cabinetmaking son of a tile-setter is quicker to offer up a whiskey than disclose the more personal details shrouded in his songs. The plaid-clad folk-rocker cringes at the word “lifestyle,” and he’ll be damned if he’d let a mechanic touch his car.

“Half of it’s just stubborn,” the songwriter says, sipping water from a Mason jar in the kitchen of his cozy northeast Minneapolis apartment. “If my car breaks I’m not going to pay somebody to fucking do it, because I could. It will take me two weeks but I did it, dammit.”

Cassidy’s blue-collar ethos courses through his debut album like motor oil. On last fall’s warmly twangy “Debts,” down but not out is a recurring theme — one the craftsman by trade and in song handles with gentle, calloused hands. The characters in the Springsteen-reared musician’s narratives are multidimensional, and foul deeds don’t necessarily reflect unredeemable souls.

The bouncy opener “Hallelujah” tells off an old know-it-all barfly, who returns to explain himself in the cagily rolling verses of “Reason to Stay,” while the title track follows a runaway who falls in with a “bad dude” and eventually pays for it.

“I feel more comfortable taking license that way,” Cassidy said of character writing. “When you write outside of yourself it’s easier to consider everything else.”

Cassidy’s plain-language tales are buttressed by two talented backing bands: his Coon Rapids High School buds in Red Daughters and a crew he calls the All Night Canyons, featuring Rob Skoro and all-star sideman Jeremy Hanson. Though the tracks on “Debts” are seamless, the sessions with the two bands were night and day. Red Daughters knocked out four songs (three of which made the cut) in one night, while the Canyons sessions were cobbled together as time and money allowed. “With those guys it’s a little more controlled,” Cassidy said of the Canyons. “With the Daughters, it’s almost going to go off the rails at any point.”

Fresh off a performance at First Avenue’s Best New Bands showcase, the 28-year-old is already working on an ambitious follow-up: a concept album based on a robbery gone wrong, with each song told from a different character’s viewpoint. While a handful are written and the rest are outlined, Cassidy — who’s inspired by Raymond Carver’s short stories — questions with an aw-shucks modesty whether he’ll be able to pull it off.

As I leave his place, Cassidy mentions he plans to catch up on the “Parks and Rec” series finale. I offer that I thought it was particularly well done. “The ending’s always the hardest part,” he opined.

Something tells us he won’t have that problem with his next chapters. -

"Sam Cassidy to play 7th Street Entry"

Blue-collar is all Sam Cassidy knows.

The Minnesota-raised singer-songwriter picked up the guitar over a decade ago, but spends his days as a cabinetmaker.

“[When I’m an old guy] I’ll probably be making furniture alone in a garage somewhere,” Cassidy said. “My dad was a tile-setter growing up … you sort of write what you know.”

In his songs, Cassidy showcases the beauty of normal living, creating complex characters and conveying their perspectives through the lyrics and music tone.

“That’s what I’m talking about,” Cassidy said, pointing to a mascot outside spinning a sign that advertised taxes. “You can’t judge that person just because they’re spinning a sign; maybe they really love that.”

The sensationalized, personal stuff is not Cassidy’s goal, he said. He aims to bring everyday life to his lyrical content and tell stories from a narrative perspective that puts listeners in the shoes of different characters in his music.

“I think everyone has some story to tell; whether you work 60 hours a week or don’t have a job,” he said. “It’s really easy for me to sound whiney and ‘poor me’ when I’m writing about myself. Nobody wants to hear that. So to be able to take myself out of the equation I think is more interesting [for the audience].”

Cassidy’s music — described as folk and “blue-collar rock” — has obvious classic rock influences like Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen, but he draws lyrical inspiration from hip-hop poets like Kendrick Lamar.

“He’s so [expletive] talented. Talk about a storyteller! ‘Good kid, m.A.A.d city’ is a front-to-back story,” Cassidy said.

The songwriting style is consistent, but the musicians performing with Cassidy get switched up. He plays with two different bands: Red Daughters and All Night Canyons and rotates them based on their availability. He tries not to advertise which band he’ll be playing with before the show.

“I think I might have [my dream collaboration]. The dudes who play on my record [“Debts”] are really top-notch. I don’t think I’d pick anybody else,” Cassidy said. “I like to introduce all my band members as much as I can, so there’s usually a pretty corny band introduction that happens mid-song. So you can expect me trying to embarrass everybody while embarrassing myself.”

Charles Murlowski of Red Daughters — a band of Cassidy’s old chums from his hometown Coon Rapids — said the musical chemistry between Cassidy and Red Daughters was second nature.

“He doesn’t want anything to sound forced, so he gives us a lot of space to do what we’re going to do. He’s not too strict,” Murlowski said. “He’s the dictator, but he’s a nice dictator.”

Producer, mixer and engineer Brett Bullion has worked with various artists, including Caroline Smith and Bon Iver, but said Cassidy really taps into the spirit of Tom Petty and Neil Young.

“The sound in some of his songs just reminds me of an oak tree. You look at it and you’re like ‘Oh it’s an oak tree; I’ve seen oak trees,’ but if you think about it, it’s still nice to see oak trees,” Bullion said. “He’s a great songwriter.”

Murlowski said Cassidy isn’t putting on any airs either.

“He’s not being someone he’s not. He’s not like wearing a cowboy hat and spurs and pretending he’s an old Westerner. He’s just an honest, hard-working guy who writes songs,” Murlowski said.

In addition to having the oak tree sound, Cassidy has the personality of a koala.

“He’s a sleepy guy. He likes snacks. He’s always working on something, but he’s also got a wild side that not too many people know about,” Murlowski said. - Minnesota Daily


Sam Cassidy - "Tell Him" and "Hard Road" (Spaces Ep. 9)

Minneapolis songwriter (and cabinetmaker) Sam Cassidy is featured in the ninth episode of the terrific local video performance series Spaces. Cassidy and his top-notch band settled in to the warm, wooden surroundings of the Summer-Winter Studio in St. Paul, to play a few capitol numbers, "Tell Him" and "Hard Road," for Nate Matson and his quality Spaces crew. The brooding, countrified vibe of these tracks sound exquisite in that room, with Cassidy and his band laying down scorching versions of a couple of standouts from his debut album, Debts. You can catch Sam live as part of Indeed Brewing's stacked Whirlygig lineup on Saturday, May 16. - City Pages


Sam Cassidy kicked off the night's festivities with his unique brand of hard-luck, blue-collar rock. Cassidy, a cabinetmaker who spent two years of his time and money on debut LP Debts, was backed by Red Daughters for his seven-song set. He showcased a true ear for timeless melodies on the earworm "Hallelujah" and the hard-charging "Way Down." - City Pages

"First Avenue's Best New Bands of 2014 Lineup"

First Avenue's yearly musical recap of the finest up-and-coming locals is a mix of some of the groups that owned the past year, and some who are about to conquer in the new year. (In Gimme Noise terms, you get a few acts that ranked on the 2014 Picked to Click poll, and some early picks for 2015.) Thus, the Best New Bands of 2014 lineup is right where it needs to be.

Soul singer PaviElle French and five other artists with varying levels of local familiarity fill out the bill for the January 17 showcase at First Avenue's mainroom.

The full lineup for the show is:

Sam Cassidy - An alt-country artist quietly emerging locally for a bit, he released the LP Debts -- with assists from members of Red Daughters and Mason Jennings's band -- earlier this year.

Etc - City Pages Gimme Noise Blog

"First Ave's Best New Bands 2014 lineup announced"

Following an especially memorable 2013 edition (in early 2014), First Avenue announced another impressive and certainly eclectic lineup for their Best New Bands of 2014 showcase, scheduled as always soon after the start of the new year on Jan. 17. That’s a Saturday night, which usually guarantees the newbies a large crowd compared to a weeknight. Click here for tickets and more info.
First Ave staff polls local music insiders and makes their own picks to compile the lineup each year, which also comes down to the performers' availability and willingness to play (which explains the absence of a any more-obvious newcomers of 2014).
Here’s a quick rundown of who’s playing:


Sam Cassidy: Fresh off opening Ike Reilly’s Thanksgiving Eve gig at First Ave, this cabinetmaker-by-day folk-rock newcomer shows traces of Father John Misty and local fave Actual Wolf on his newly issued debut, “Debts,” recorded with help from members of the Red Daughters and Jeremy Hanson (Tapes ‘n Tapes) and Rob Skoro (Mason Jennings). - Star Tribune


Still working on that hot first release.



Minneapolis, MN - Sometimes it just takes a while for things to come into focus. Debts is the first collection of songs from Minneapolis’ Sam Cassidy. Written over the last few years, Cassidy draws on the life of ordinary people as well as his own experiences to paint vivid pictures of struggle and joy, hard work and taking it easy, longing and satisfaction. 

Debts was tracked in three studios over ten months and culls the talents of eight musicians in two separate backing bands. Cassidy recorded a set of tracks live at the Terrarium, calling on longtime friends the Red Daughters- Tony Beres, Mark Hanson, Aaron “Hix” Lee, Charlie Murlowski, and Ryan Zickermann. More songs were recorded with the All Night Canyons - a group of talented musicians pulled together for these sessions including Jeremy Hanson (Tapes 'n Tapes, Actual Wolf), Rob Skoro (Mason Jennings, Haley Bonar), Steve Bosmans (Charn, John Mark Nelson), and Hix (Red Daughters, Dirt Road Ramblers).

The whole process took nearly two years to complete, with Cassidy operating on a working man’s budget, hitting the studio when time and money allowed. A cabinetmaker by trade, Cassidy’s blue-collar ethic rings throughout the young songwriter’s debut, especially on tracks like “Caffeine” and the lead single “Hard Road.”

“Hallelujah” speaks of an old man with whom a young bar patron has had enough. “Reason to Stay” returns to the same old man and offers his side of the story. The title track tells of someone who gets in over his head and ends up paying his debts the hard way, while “Please Say No” begs an old friend to clean up his act. Cassidy’s ability to write a song from the everyman’s point of view is the thread that strings Debts together. It’s that constant search and struggle that keeps life interesting, to hoping it all works out.

Recently named one of First Avenue's Best New Bands of 2014, Cassidy's music music has been described as a "unique brand of hard-luck, blue-collar rock" with "a true ear for timeless melodies". Often backed by a sprawling backing band, his dynamic live show is not to be missed. 

Band Members