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Go Triad Feature: No mistake, musician is ‘distinctly Oklahoman’

There is something about Samantha Crain’s photograph that kills the surprise while speaking by phone about spending the day salvaging her blueberry bushes from Oklahoma’s winter frosts. Her pleasant face and photographed demeanor seem to fit right into a notion of “Samantha Crain: blueberry cultivator.”

The soon-to-be 22-year-old singer-songwriter of Samantha Crain and the Midnight Shivers is a Shawnee, Okla., native who sounds innately comfortable with her musical history, both in conversation and in her actual music. Crain did not learn to play the guitar or start songwriting until a little after she turned 18, but listening to her croon could fool many people into thinking otherwise. Her rapidly growing reputation as a gifted lyricist and storyteller, with musical accompaniment to match, has landed her and the Midnight Shivers a place with Ramseur Records, the label of North Carolina’s much-loved Avett Brothers.

“It’s kind of funny,” Crain said about her musical past. “I went to this music colony on Martha’s Vineyard when I was 19. I had only been playing music for about a year. … I went off on a whim and wrote my first song up there.”

It was after her return from Martha’s Vineyard that she decided to start touring.
“I didn’t really know what else to do. … I didn’t know any better to not try,” said Crain, who has been touring full time ever since.

Crain and her band of Shivers who hail from St. Louis (Jacob Edwards, Andrew Tanz and Nate Henricks) have been playing together for the past year and have a July 22 release date for their EP, “The Confiscation.”

The music is labeled as folk-rock, which is probably pretty dead on.

Crain’s voice has been likened to that of Judy Garland singing Neutral Milk Hotel songs, which is also a fair description.

There is something about her music that calls to mind Joanna Newsom, except hardier and more from the gut, instead of wherever it is that Newsom gets that sound of hers.
Actually, finding an accurate and honest description of Crain’s sound is something of an interesting topic.

On Samantha Crain and the Midnight Shivers’ MySpace page, the band’s sound and influences are listed as “distinctly Oklahoman,” meaning “music that comes from Oklahoma has a weird cross-section.”

“The Flaming Lips and Woody Guthrie are two figureheads around here,” Crain said. “I can always tell when a band is from Oklahoma.

“Listening to experimental music like (The Flaming Lips) mixed with traditional folk music creates a cross-section. We’re labeled as ‘folk rock,’ which makes pretty apparent our love for the two types of music.”

Charla Duncan is a freelance contributor. Contact her at

  • Posted on June 13