Hailing from Brooklyn, Sammy Rae and The Friends are no strangers to the NYC music scene. The seven-piece unit has been bringing its rock-meets-jazz-meets-neo-soul sound to some of NYC’s most iconic venues for the last five years, and we got to groove with them at a spirited SummerStage show last Thursday. The band donned their complementary seafoam green and purple wardrobe as they opened with “The Feeling,” only deviating from the aesthetic when Sammy Rae broke out a metallic spacesuit for “Follow Me Like the Moon.” Bright keys, steady bass, exciting sax battles, and a rare but well-received cowbell solo provided the perfect soundtrack as the sun set over Central Park.
Sammy Rae’s voice is an instrument unto itself. Throughout the set, Sammy Rae melodically addressed the audience through song, telling stories, sharing words of encouragement, and expressing gratitude. In this manner, we learned that the band is currently writing and recording its first full-length album, and preparing for its largest European tour to-date.
The SummerStage set welcomed more than just the core 7-Friends, which consists of Sammy Rae, Kellon Reese, Max Zooi, James Quinlan, Debbie Tjong, Will Leet, and C-bass Chiriboga, to the mix. The Nebulous Quartet added strings and depth to Sammy Rae and The Friends originals, while openers Rubblebucket added brassy flair. Veronica Stewart-Frommer and Marlo Shankweiler of Melt joined the band on stage for a groovy rendition of The Doobie Brothers classic, “Long Train Runnin’.”
It’s clear that the band, its fanbase, and the music itself are based on friendship and community, so make sure to bring some friends the next time Sammy Rae and The Friends are in town.
📸: shot by Jill Boyatsis