Queenstown rocker Sam Ross has a secret – country music is his guilty pleasure.
The guitarist is best-known for his role in rock band Pistol Knights.
However, a chance encounter with country singer Jody Direen led to a tour and getting involved in her new album.
Ross knows many of his rock fans and band mates will give him grief for his love of Keith Urban but he isn’t fazed.
“You may think it’s a three-chord song. Singing about losing your girlfriend, getting divorced, something about a pick-up truck or drinking beers. But it is one of the hardest styles I have ever played in 20 years in the industry.”
He has been working with Direen since Christmas after hearing through the grapevine she needed a guitarist.
He’d worked as her sound technician during a previous gig and decided to give her a buzz.
“It was just off the cuff – but yeah it worked out.”
Ross compares picking up country to learning another language.
He’s enjoying the different genre but says he isn’t moving away from his rock roots.
Performing with Direen is only one element of his busy musical calendar.
Ross still plays with Pistol Knights, something he describes as his comfort zone. He doesn’t get to play with them as often as he’d like but reckons it is always a fun gig.
The list continues. He also does a jam night in Arrowtown with bass player David Gent from The Exponents, alongside local musicians Matthew Bradford and Marc Hamilton.
It’s a night of freedom, he says. The guys can play what they want – and take direction from the audience.
“No night is the same.”
Add to that a duo with Mark Hobbs, called Those Guys, a two-piece duo with Dave Arnold, Needy Pin, and new solo listings.
Playing on his tod has been an eye-opener.
“It’s just me and a loop pedal. It gives you that naked feeling. You have no one else to rely on on-stage but yourself. It is very different.”
When he gets time he still writes original music but says playing your own stuff doesn’t always cut it in Queenstown.
“The problem is that it is such a nomadic town. To do a fully original set it is really hard to attract people to a bar. You have to think in a business sense as well as musically.”
Sam Ross is joined by Mark Hobbs, Those Guys, Pub on Wharf, Sunday, 8pm