Sammy Brue is making quite a name for himself in Utah’s music scene right now, but that’s not always where he figured he would end up. “Before I became a musician, I was super into tennis and had a dream of becoming a professional,” says Brue. This long-haired, hippie-lost-in-time seems the opposite of a tennis pro in crisp whites but we’re lucky that he never made it pro. Brue has innumerable, often unexpected interests that infuse his music with a transcendent quality some singer-songwriters only wish they could harness.
Brue unabashedly credits fusing those perfect notes and lyrics to his superpower of constant observation. “I’ve always been an observer. I like watching things happen around me and thinking about them,” he says. “Every week or so, I make a list of things that have either inspired me or just make me feel good to set the vibe for the week.” His desire to experience every facet of what life has to offer gives him a fascinating eye for the strange—especially in one so young—that imbues his music with the raw appeal of Johnny Cash or Gillian Welch.
Brue credits the folk/Americana/rock scene in Utah with giving him everything from role models in his youth to connecting him with incredible musicians he is proud to call friends today. But being a young (read: under 21) musician in this state has some unique challenges.
“It really has been challenging for me here. It’s time to change the liquor laws so that young performers can work when they have the opportunity,” he says. “A year or so ago, I was on tour with my label mate, Justin Townes Earle, and we went to almost every corner of the country playing in all kinds of venues, but the one place I couldn’t play with him was here in Utah, my home state.”
Utah should take note because Brue is blowing up (we’re pretty grateful he wanted to do a Small Lake City Concert for us). Heck, this kid was dubbed an “Americana Prodigy” by no less than Rolling Stone magazine. Through it all, he focuses intently on his music and continues his self-described search to find the words and sounds to take him on the next step in his journey. Whatever Sammy Brue encounters next, he’s definitely up for it: “I want to live a fantasy. I want to live the weirdest paragraph known to man.” —Ashley Szanter