Sam Black Church: Re-Alive 2016 [Night 1 of 2]
8pm doors / 18+ / $25 advance, $28 day of show
Sam Black Church (SBC) was formed in Boston, MA, in June 1988 by brothers Ben (guitar) and Jesse “Jet” Crandall (vocals), J.R. Roach (drums)(all three from Greenbrier County, West Virginia), and Richard G. Lewis (bass), from Washington, DC. Originally having moved to Boston to attend college, they began writing and rehearsing in a little studio on Boylston Street in Boston’s Back Bay. Inspired by variety of hardcore and metal artists, including Cro-Mags, Bad Brains, Motörhead, Slayer and Metallica, they began to forge an original sound that would later influence bands like Killswitch Engage, Shadows Fall and System of a Down among others.
After a brief hiatus, during which Ben attended medical school, they were approached in 1990 by Slapshot drummer Mark McKay, who offered to release a 7” record for the band after only seeing them play twice. That record, titled “Unincorporated”, featured four songs and was released as a limited pressing of 2,000 copies on Grinding Halt Records, which sold out in a matter of weeks. It remains a much sought after collectors item. Around this time, SBC joined forces with local promoter Sean McNally, owner of Cringe Productions, who became their manager and has remained their manager to this day.
Powered by a frenetic, bombastic live show and McNally’s booking, SBC began to storm the Boston and greater New England hardcore/metal scene, culminating in a breakthrough show at Boston’s legendary club The Channel, with hardcore icons Bad Brains, Slapshot, and fellow upstarts Only Living Witness.
Shortly thereafter, SBC signed with local independent label Taang! Records in 1992. While touring New England and the greater United States relentlessly with acts such at Clutch, Helmet, Stuck Mojo, Fear, Nothingface and Skinlab, they recorded two EPs and one full length recording for Taang!: S/T E.P. (1992 – also known as the “purple” EP); “Let in Life” (1993); and “Superchrist” (1995).
After legally fulfilling their contract with Taang!, SBC recorded two demos for Geffen Records in 1996 and 1997. Unfortunately, due to what some call miscommunication and others might call malice, legal complications with their former label – though being resolved in court – led to a derailment of the relationship with Geffen. The demos that were recorded for Geffen surfaced later that year in the form of the self-released “That Which Does Not Kill Us”, which is considered among devotees as the band’s finest recording.
In early 1998, SBC signed with local Boston label Wonderdrug Records, and released their last full-length recording entitled “The Black Comedy”. Around this time period, founding guitarist Ben Crandall departed the band to focus on his family following the birth of his son. He was replaced by close friend Zack Andrien of Boston bands Maelstrom and Big Wig. The band toured the United States for two more years, until finally retiring following their last show with The Mighty Mighty Bosstones at The Middle East club in Cambridge, MA, in late December 1999.
SBC reunited in September 2001, just four days after the September 11th attacks, to play the Freedom Rally on Boston Common to support the release of their double CD best-of package “For We Are Many”, also released on Wonderdrug Records.
They would not reunite again until September of 2007, for a sold out show at the Roxy in Boston, with support acts Unearth, Madball and Darkbuster. This show was the largest headlining club show SBC had ever played in Boston.
In December 2013, SBC was invited to join their old friends The Mighty Mighty Bosstones for a sold-out show at Boston’s House of Blues. Just a few months later, in April of 2014, SBC co-headlined the New England Metal and Hardcore Festival at the Palladium in Worcester, MA, the site of some of their most memorable shows.
Now, two years later, SBC is celebrating the release of the documentary about their career and impact. “Leave Behind a Groove in the Earth – The Story of Sam Black Church”, is ten years in the making. The documentary was written, directed and narrated by Boston musician, spoken word artist and now filmmaker, Duncan Wilder Johnson.
To celebrate this milestone, Sam Black Church will perform two reunion shows at The Sinclair in Cambridge, MA, on June 30th and July 1st, 2016. These two shows will be only the fifth and sixth shows the band has played in sixteen years since disbanding in late 1999. It will be a celebration of their fans, their music, and a legacy that became more far-reaching than any of the members could have imagined nearly 30 years ago. And, there is more to come…