Tiny Desk Concert: Sam Phillips

I don't think enough people have heard the music of Sam Phillips, and now seems like a good time to change that. Her songs unfold like perfect miniature pop dramas, and her new album, Don't Do Anything, is loaded with great ones. Of all her incarnations as a performer — first as a Christian singer, then as a pop singer — the current Sam Phillips is the one I find most alluring.

All Songs Considered recently asked Phillips to play an intimate concert at my desk here at NPR. She listened to the Tiny Desk Concert we did with Laura Gibson, and that convinced Phillips to play for us. Little did we know that our air conditioning would die during a record-breaking heat wave on that day, but she was a trouper.

Now you can see and hear Sam Phillips perform four songs with the help of Erik Gorfain, who plays an electric guitar with amps the size of cigarette boxes. He also trots out a Stroh violin — a contraption that must be seen to be believed.

Here's the set list:
Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us
No Explanations
Little Plastic Life




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That was fantastic! Sam is wonderful, and this shows her down to earth personality and dry wit, in addition to her amazing musical talents. She is a blessing to us all. Thank you for doing this.

Sent by Jill | 6:59 PM | 6-25-2008

Thanks for this (hi quality) sample of a terribly underrated singer/songwriter.

Sent by mike zim | 7:27 PM | 6-25-2008

Amazing! Lucky office!

Sent by dayve | 9:01 PM | 6-25-2008

WOW ! Thank you for playing Sam...that was great. I'm from Australia and was blessed to be introduced to her music at a gig Sam did in Nashville. Have been a fan ever since. Why oh why isn't she just HUGE all around the world ?!
If you have the opportunity to see her live....do it, she is one of the most brillaint live performers I have ever seen.
Cheers from Australia

Sent by Steve Dias | 6:34 AM | 6-26-2008

That just made my day! Sam is amazing and her new cd is the best yet!

Sent by Angela Barribeau | 7:52 AM | 6-26-2008

Jackie Greene
Giving up the Ghost
Great Album best of year in many peoples opinion. Please add it to voters list. Thanks

Sent by Ira Borin | 3:34 PM | 6-26-2008

Thanks for sharing Sam Phillip's terrific performance. Don't Do Anything is stellar; each song is perfectly realized and reverberates well beyond the traditional confines of a "pop" tune. When they were in town earlier this month, Sam and Eric played a wonderful set at Borders and were extremely gracious, charming, and generous with the audience. Here's hoping this new release reaches the wide audience it deserves.

Sent by Betsy | 11:16 AM | 6-27-2008

James Hunter
The Hard Way (new release)
Please Add it to your list. Hunter's voice is magic-he's a brilliant performer,everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy this great talent We love,love, love it!

Sent by Judy Cook | 12:36 PM | 6-27-2008

Tiny Desk Concerts are a great addition to ASC. Nice to see Sam as well. I love the new CD.

Sent by Joe | 2:51 PM | 6-27-2008

The White House Project has the strange ambition to bring politics to the dancefloor.

Please listen and enjoy at: www.myspace.com/whitehouseproject

Sent by Joost | 2:59 PM | 6-28-2008

I've been a fan of Sam Phillips for almost 20 years, and her music just keeps getting better. Thank you for highlighting her work and posting this tasty little appetizer of a concert. I hope everyone will go for the full meal and see Sam live or buy her records. Thanks NPR for showcasing great art.

Sent by Lane Ayo | 6:37 PM | 7-1-2008

Sam's voice and presence are wonderful. Great performance. You lucky!!! She only sings in my dreams and in my office with iTunes.
Greetings from Mexico City.

Sent by Jesus Quintero | 12:55 PM | 7-2-2008

Thanks for posting the mini-concert. I love Sam Phillips, and Eric's violin as well. Saw them at Borders as well - a great show and very nice people. Nice to relive it here!

Sent by Annie | 3:15 PM | 7-5-2008

really sweet! may i place a plug for dar williams or lucy wainwright roche to grace the tiny desk, 11/7-11/8?

Sent by jehan | 11:51 AM | 7-8-2008

Thanks for having Sam do that mini-concert!

Sent by trh | 1:05 PM | 7-16-2008

Thanks for sharing this mini concert with all interested. The first live pictures I see of one of my favourite singer/songwriter the past 15 years.
Thank You !

Sent by Tor Midtskog | 5:36 PM | 7-16-2008

I love Sam and am so grateful you posted this.

Sent by Jfy | 2:11 PM | 7-17-2008

Incredible. "No More Explanations"- the definitive performance of that tune. Thanks for sharing this.

Sent by Timothy Ledbetter | 11:58 PM | 7-17-2008

I don't think enough people have heard the music of Sam Phillips, and now seems like a good time to change that. Her songs unfold like perfect miniature pop dramas, and her new album, Don't Do Anything, is loaded with great ones.
Addiction Recovery Virginia

Sent by aakash | 12:22 PM | 7-25-2008

According to this blog they publish famous and great Album best of year in several people opinion. Please add it to voter list for them.

Thank you
subhash pandey
Addiction Recovery Washington

Sent by Subhash Pandey | 2:07 AM | 7-26-2008

This series is fantastic. I'm really looking forward to seeing her play in NYC next month (at Le Poisson Rouge). She sounds great live!

Sent by Ryan | 12:49 PM | 7-30-2008

I saw Sam last night at the Iron Horse and was mesmerized! Erik and the other 3 members of "The Section Quartet" were also amazing, at the show in Northamnpton! Later that same night I discovered we share the same birthday (same month & day). I've enjoyed her music since she was 26 and I was 37. Thank you, Bob, for this tiny office desk sized concert. That was truly a labor of musical love to perform in a D.C. heat & humidity wave. And it IS the heat as well as the humidity that is so miserable. Yes, Sam's a real trouper, but why is she still so unknown?

Sent by Clay | 4:17 AM | 8-4-2008

I was amazed at the sound quality, thanks

Sent by paul | 11:55 AM | 9-19-2008