Sue Bonzell:  Welcome to Cow Chair Country, where I find new up-and-coming country artists and bring them to your living room. Today, we have Sam Grow.

He has more than 50 million streams worldwide, and he’s opened for Colt Ford. I am super excited to introduce you guys to Sam Grow. How’s it going?

Sam Grow:  What’s up? Thank you so much for having me.

Sue Bonzell: And where are you today?

Sam Grow:  Currently, I’m in a liquor store parking lot in Maryland. Because that is my life now, 2020, I don’t know what I’m going to be in. Sometimes I’m in a bus, like two weekends ago, I was on a tour bus. This week, I’m in a truck in Maryland. So, just a bag of…

Sue Bonzell:  In the liquor store parking lot, I mean, that’s classic.

Sam Grow:  Yeah. Just depending how my day goes. I could just walk over there. But it’s a good day, so far, so…

Sue Bonzell: That is awesome. So, I’m excited to meet you. I found you on TikTok. I’ve listened to many of your songs. I’ve heard them on Spotify and all over the place. And so, you started your music journey at a pretty young age. And I know you had a an agreement with your dad. Tell us that story.

Sam Grow:  Yeah. So, I started singing when… I mean, my daddy, actually, had me start singing in church when I was five. And saying, the first time I was supposed to go up and sing Amazing grace, I chickened out completely. Didn’t do it, too scared, cried, the whole nine yards. Then the next week, and I got up and did it, sang, loved it. I was like, “Man, this is awesome.” People clapped. They were super nice. And then, I’d played ball through high school and just started taking an interest in music. I’ve always had it. And I wanted to start playing guitar and went to my dad who’s… He was super blue collar. He was a lineman. He worked on power lines across the country and earned everything he had. And so, I told him, “I want a guitar.” And he said, “Well, that’s cool, but you have to earn it.”

So, I went and borrowed a guitar from a friend. I had to show him that I would take the initiative to do it and learn songs. And he was like, “Son, you have to learn songs that have substance. If you come back and play me Green Day, I’m not buying you anything.” So, my dad was super old school. He had me when he was 40 years old. So, he listened to old school music. And so, I knew I had to sing some classics. I tried singing an Elvis song for him, he told me to never do that again, which is the nice, dad way, of basically, saying it was horrible. And then I sang him a Sam Cooke song and he loved it, took me to the music store, and bought me my first guitar at 14 years old. And it stuck, that’s what I’ve done ever since.

Sue Bonzell:  So, yeah. So tell me about your songwriting from a young age.

Sam Grow: Yeah. So, songwriting came supernatural for me. I started listening to songs with my dad… That’s where I felt… My dad was my biggest influence when it comes to music. And I would travel with him, and that was what we did, was we listened to the radio or CDs or whatever he had. And I just remember listening to the stories and some of those songs and realizing that I wanted to be like those guys and girls, and started just writing my own, ten-year-old angst, for the girls that, probably, didn’t want to date me at the time.

And then, my parents, they split when I was 12. And so, I started writing that on paper and I felt better after. I’d write what I was feeling, put it down on paper, and I’d feel better. And I was like, “Man, there’s something to this.” And so, I just kept doing it. Every time I’d had some real experience in life, I would write about it. And especially, if it was not the best experience, I’d write about it, and I would feel better after. And it’s just been my therapy ever since.

Sue Bonzell: Isn’t that amazing? And then, in your therapy, then bringing joy to everybody else with your music and your artistry, if you will. So, you have… The song that I… You have several songs that I like, but I really liked This Town. And I liked the video. I liked the video that you did because it has this commentary about what the song’s about and the behind the scenes of you writing the song. Tell me more about that.

Sam Grow: Yeah. So, 2020 was a terrible year for a lot of people and I actually ended up having it, being a blessing for me. I stayed home in quarantine for the first couple months of COVID, and my label was like, stay at home, we’ll figure it out, you’re okay, just stay at your house. Well, I’ve been touring since I was 16 and I didn’t do well with the whole stay-at-home thing. I’d quarantine. I’d shot every gun I had at my house. I caught every fish in my pond, three or four times. So, I was driving… It was… I was going crazy. And so, I got on the internet and looked to see all the strict states and what their regulations and rules were. And they said you could have 10 people over at your house, even in the strictest states.

So, I called my manager, I said, “I’m going to go and play in people’s backyards.” And he started laughing at me, and he was like, “What are you going to do? Take a tour bus to people’s backyards and play?” I said, “No. Because I’d look like Ty Pennington if I brought my tour bus to people’s houses, it’ll look like I’m going to remodel their homes or something.” I said, “I’m going to drive my own truck.” And he was like, “Good.” He goes, “You couldn’t take your bus anyway, because DoT regulations and COVID, or whatever.” He’s like, “But you’re going to drive your own personal truck?” I was like, “Yeah”, he goes, “No one’s going to do that.” And I said, “Well, let me try.” So, I did what any grown man would do, [inaudible] on Facebook, posted a status, and I booked 33 shows in 17 states, in four hours. And…

Sue Bonzell: No kidding.

Sam Grow: Yeah. So, all of 2020, I did this thing called Backyards & Bonfires. I played 87 shows. I put 120,000 miles on my truck. I drove from California, all the way up to Washington, all through the Midwest, down through Texas, back through Florida, and up through the Northeast. And during that time, I realized how much… What made me love my job, and that’s the connection with people. And I’d been on a bus, a year and a half, prior to 2020. And I, honestly, was not having the best time because I was a first of three. There’s a lot of rules when you’re out on tour with people, the meet and greets, I think, are a terrible situation. One, I think it’s weird that people pay extra money to say, “Hi”, I’ve never understood that. And then you only get to talk to him for like two minutes.

They can’t use their cell phone, which I hated that too. So, being out and doing Backyards, not only did I get to play for people, but I could hang out with them afterwards. And there was no guy being like, “Okay, that’s enough, next person.” So, I missed that connection. And when we started putting out music in 2021, I was talking to the label and I was like, “I hate music videos too, because I don’t feel like anybody gets to connect with anybody in those.” I was like, “Insert any artist in any band, in any bar, hire two actors, put them in there, same video, every single time, someone cries, whatever. That’s… It’s just this Rolodex of normal thing. It always happens all the time.” I said, “I want to put some more story in mind.” They were like, “Okay, what do you have in mind?”

And I said, “I mean, even if it’s shot with a cell phone, I just want to go back and try to tell the stories of these songs. I write them. So, this is what I do on Backyards & Bonfires, is I tell people where they come from. So, let’s try to do that in videos.” And that’s what I did. I had a breakup with a girl from, not too far from here, actually. And we broke up, and our little small town was pretty upset that we broke up, mainly, upset with me. And I had a hard time.

Sue Bonzell: Yeah. Well, of course.

Sam Grow:  Yeah. I mean, it’s fine, I’ll… I have a song called The Blame, and it’s because I’ll take the blame for all of it, it’s fine. I’m the tattooed musician. It’s fine. But… I was like… It was a tough time for me because I felt uncomfortable coming home.

And I felt like, not only was I breaking up with her, I was breaking up with the town. So, I wanted to come back and tell the story and show it. And, luckily, everybody seems to be okay with it now. She’s moved on. She’s doing great. And so, now, everything’s fine. But it was nice, I got to play some homage to my hometown and show some of the stuff that I come from. And it has been fun. I’ve been doing those more. On the video I just put out, Better Than Me, is the same thing. I tell the story a little bit in that too.


Sue Bonzell: The song, This Town, and you’re talking about a small town. I’m out here in California, we’re in Wine Country. We’re in a pretty small town and I grew up here, so I know exactly how that is. So, it’s like, everybody knows your business and everybody’s like, “What happened here?” And then it’s all the rumors, and then it’s this, and it’s that, and somebody said something, something, and… Man, you captured it really, really well in that song, so I’m like… I totally feel it. Totally feel it. So, I mentioned that…

Sam Grow: Thank you so much. Thank you.

Sue Bonzell:  You bet. I’m out here in Wine Country, so I have to ask you, do you drink any wine?

Sam Grow: Oh, yeah. I drink everything. I don’t hold back from any sort or form of alcohol. I’m a friend to it all, except for maybe, sometimes, fireball. We don’t get along sometimes. But… No, I love wine. I’m probably not… I mean, I would appreciate a Wine Country wine and you guys could probably tell me all the different flavors of different oaks and everything that I’m supposed to taste in it, but I’m even fine with a Bota Box. I can go and get some boxed wine and be fine with it, I’m good, so… Yeah. [crosstalk].

Sue Bonzell: Okay. I think I might need to party with you. I don’t know.

Sam Grow: Yeah.

Sue Bonzell: That’s what I’m thinking. So, okay. I need… I need your…

Sam Grow: [crosstalk] Wine tasting out there.

Sue Bonzell: Yes. Come out here and play, and we’ll do some wine tasting, do all that stuff.

Sam Grow: That should be… Now that COVID is going away, that should be a segment on your show like, Wine Tasting With… Let me be the first guest, though.

Sue Bonzell: We’ll do wine tasting with Sam. Yeah, it’ll be great.

Sam Grow: Well, yeah. Come on. I love it.

Sue Bonzell:  I like this. I like this. This is good.

Sam Grow: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Sue Bonzell:  So, I need your best tequila story.

Sam Grow: Oh, gosh. I have a lot of tequila stories.

Sue Bonzell: Why didn’t I know that? Why didn’t I know that?

Sam Grow: I’m trying to figure out which one is probably the most appropriate for mass viewing. Because I have way more inappropriate ones than I do PG 13. I drank tequila in a Mexican restaurant once and I decided that the… And I got a really good buzz going. And then, you know those giant patroned display tequilas that they have in Mexican restaurants that you normally, you’ll see up on a shelf they’re giant oversized? I got drunk enough and thought that it would be a good idea to own that and bought it. Don’t remember buying it. Don’t want to talk about how much it costs. And then I drank all that bottle too with my friends. So, that’d probably be my worst and also token, because I still have that bottle in my bar, at my house, prize that I have. And I should have not drank as much as I did, but I did. I bought it and they still like me at that Mexican, particular Mexican restaurant, a lot. They’re pretty happy when they see me.

Sue Bonzell: Oh, good. So, they invited you back, that’s awesome.

Sam Grow: Yeah. Yeah. So, my advice is, drink all the tequila, buy the display bottle, they’ll love you. It’s fine.

Sue Bonzell: Good. It is Mexico after all, they were used to that. It’s expected.

Sam Grow: Yeah. Exactly.

Sue Bonzell: So, you’re starting a new tour. Is that correct? You’re going out on tour?

Sam Grow: I am. I am, I’m doing…

Sue Bonzell: Tell me what are you doing?

Sam Grow: Now, it’s open to the… It’s… 2021 is such a crazy year, because it’s like hybrid, because you’re trying to dodge different codes and stuff, still. And I just got to play some full man shows in upstate New York. That was a blast. Did some of those, and get ready to play some more scattered. But the one thing that seem the most consistent to do a tour with is the acoustic shows, which is what I’ve been doing for pretty much the year, now. So, I’m going to do this thing called my new single that’s coming out, or it might be out, but, actually, it’s probably out right now, depending on the video, this… Timing of this video. It’s out right now, it’s called Whiskey Bound. You should be listening to it, stream it right after you watch this. But it’s going to be called the Whiskey Bound Acoustic Tour.

And I’m super excited about it. I’m going to go across the country again. Except now, it’s not people’s backyards, it’s in actual venues, and people can come out and buy their general admission ticket. I’ll play them some songs, tell them some stories, and then we’re going to hang out in the bar afterwards. And the cool thing about this place or these places too is, we teamed up with a booking agency that normally books rock clubs. So, I’m going to at play some of the rock venues and the rules are a lot looser, so I can hang out with people longer, after the show, we can hang at the bar and have some drinks and I can still have that connection with people, which I realized, that is the key to my happiness on the road is that, if I don’t have it, then I’m miserable.

Sue Bonzell: Exactly. Yeah. There… It’s… That’s the most important thing, you got to keep yourself happy. Because it’s… What you do and doing all the traveling, like you said, all the miles on your truck, and all the everything, and just always on the go, that can wear on you. It’s a lot.

Sam Grow: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Absolutely.

Sue Bonzell: So… And you… You also have new… A new album coming out as well?

Sam Grow: I do. It’ll be out in… And this won’t be out, when this video comes out. It’s coming out in September.

Sue Bonzell: Okay.

Sam Grow: This is the rest of my full-length album. And I’m super excited, it’s got some… Just some more personal-type songs on there. This album, I’m trying to do, like I said, just be even more vulnerable than usual. And I have an awesome record label that lets me do and put out whatever I want, which is a very rare situation for a lot of artists. And just lucky for me, they’re letting me be more personal with my stories and stuff that I want to cut. And it comes out the weekend of the anniversary… My dad, everybody knows, was a huge role in my life and he passed away in 2018.

So, it’s releasing the weekend on the anniversary of his passing. So, it’s a homage, in memory of him. And there’s a song called Go Right Now, on there, that I wrote about him. That’s going to be on the album. And I just think it’s a record that my dad would’ve been proud to ride around and listen to. And I know he’s listening to it up there in heaven, but I can’t wait to be kicking with him at heaven’s bar, listen to some of these songs. [inaudible] It’s a personal album, I’m excited about it.

Sue Bonzell: That’s fantastic. I love that you’re doing that. That’s perfect timing. I am serious about getting you out here in California. So, we’re going to talk more. And so, if you guys are watching this right now and you want Sam to come out to California and do a little concert, maybe in my backyard, I don’t know, put in the comments and let us know. We want to see you out here in California.

Sam Grow: There’s got to be a winery out there, right? It would do like a…

Sue Bonzell: There’s one or two, one or two, couple. Yeah.

Sam Grow: Let’s just pick any one of the little ones. We’ll do a wine tasting. Little country wine tasting with Sam Grow. I’ll play some songs, hang out with people, we’ll try some wine, all y’all can tell me what the different tastes I’m supposed to have in my palette when I’m sipping these things.

Sue Bonzell:  Yeah. Well, do a little education.

Sam Grow: [crosstalk] Together. Yeah. Come one, let’s go.

Sue Bonzell: We’ll do a little wine education and you can teach us some new songs. So, I think that’s what we’re going to do.

Sam Grow: Yeah, let’s do it. My manager’s from Wisconsin. He can probably get some really good cheese out there with us. We’ll just bring the cheese plate with us. We’ll have cheese, crackers, and wine. Let’s go.

Sue Bonzell: We have cheese too. Good cheese. Happy Cows are from California.

Sam Grow: Yeah? Oh, that’s right. It’s true. You guys started the trend. A lot more Happy Cows now. So, there are some sad cows out there, but California completely turned that around for them. So, good on you for that. Good on you for that.

Sue Bonzell:  Awesome. Well, I want to thank you so much for taking some time to chat with me a little bit. You can find Sam Grow on, probably, just about every music outlet. And we’re playing it on The Bull, here in Santa Rosa. So, that’s exciting too.

Sam Grow: Come on. Let’s go. I appreciate it. Thank you so much.

Sue Bonzell: Thanks, Sam. Thanks for watching Cow Chair Country. I’m Sue Bonzell. And make sure you follow me on TikTok, and like and subscribe. And, of course, if you have an up and coming country artist that you would love for me to interview, please let me know in the comments.