PORT ANGELES — Right up front, The Sam Chase gets to the point.
“Music and performing are the life blood of my soul,” said the singer-guitarist, who’s poised to do an “In [Your] Living Room” concert this Friday via the Juan de Fuca Foundation for the Arts.
The show is free and will be broadcast on JFFA’s YouTube channel and Facebook page at 6 p.m. To watch, visit JFFA.org/live.
Chase, who lives in San Francisco, has strong connections to Port Angeles for a few reasons. The violinist in his band, The Sam Chase and the Untraditional, is Chandra Johnson, who grew up in Port Angeles; together they’ve played the Juan de Fuca Festival and other venues around town many a time.
These days Chase is a solo act, pouring out his gritty vocals in live-streamed performances he says have made all the difference.
“I have done more than 50 live streams since COVID started,” he said. “I thank my lucky stars that the technology has come as far as it has, because not only did it help me pay my bills and stay above water financially, but it helped me far more emotionally,” making a trying year bearable.
Alongside Chase’s folk-flavored rock ’n’ roll, his sense of humor sets the artist apart, said JFFA Executive Director Kayla Oakes.
“He has a background in standup comedy,” she said. “He’s so at ease, telling stories and guiding the crowd into a song.
“I’ve heard him with a full band, and I’ve seen him do acoustic sets,” Oakes added.
In Friday’s show, it’ll be Chase and his guitar. Oakes said she looks forward to hearing his songs up close, delivered with Chase’s singular style.
“He pulls you into whatever space it was that helped him create a song,” she said, “and he’s thoroughly entertaining.”
Chase is known as The Sam Chase thanks to his cockeyed way of approaching the San Francisco music scene. When he was getting started, bookers wanted bands, not solo acts. So he added “The” to make himself sound more like a band.
An actual ensemble formed later; between the two of them, The Sam Chase and the Untraditional have since released 10 albums. The latest is 2019’s live record, “Lost and Found: Live at the Lost Sierra Hoedown.”
These days, the live-streamed gigs take imagination, Chase said.
The hardest part in the beginning was learning how to look into his computer’s webcam and see an audience on the other side of the lens.
“You know that somehow on the other end of that series of tubes there is another lonely human who wants to be recognized,” he said. “Keeping that in mind and knowing that some of them depend on me just as much as I depend on them gives me all the energy I need.”
“I make it known to them how much it means to me to have them here … I think we kind of feel like we are not only there to be entertained, but also to supply a service and space for us to congregate to let everyone know we are doing OK.”
This is the third online “In [Your] Living Room” show from the Juan de Fuca Foundation. Another live-streamed concert is planned for March 26.
Featuring the band FarmStrong, it will be a benefit for Studio Bob, the downtown Port Angeles event space that has remained closed since last March.
JFFA is also the presenter of the annual music, dance and art festival in multiple venues around Port Angeles since 1992.
Oakes and her team are planning a virtual festival for May 28-31, with a few in-person events possible.
Chase is a devoted fan of JFFA, its festival and its variety of performers, which have ranged from blues singers to ballet dancers.
“I hope that they all understand just how much the festival means to the bands who come from far and wide,” he said.
“You’ve got something special going, and because of that, so do we. I can’t wait to play to a PA crowd once again, but until then, come hang out” Friday evening.
“Let yourself be known in the chat, so I can imagine your beautiful face” through that webcam.
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]