Sam Friend, 29, is a singer-songwriter, guitarist, banjoist, composer, arranger, and bandleader known for his command of the blues, rock, funk, and traditional jazz. Based in New Orleans and hailing from New Rochelle, N.Y., he interned at Jazz at Lincoln Center and received a degree in musical composition from Amherst College, composing and performing a 40-minute jazz suite, “The One of Us,” for 40 musicians, including big-band, nonet, and acapella.
In 2012, Friend co-founded the New Orleans Swamp Donkeys Traditional Jass Band with trumpet player and vocalist James Williams, also featuring Wes Anderson IV (Quad) on Tuba, Jon Ramm on Trombone, and Joshua "Jams" Marotta on Drums. The band gained renown at the NOLA JazzFest and at jazz festivals around the world, including North Sea, Ascona, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Le Sporting Monte-Carlo, and the Edinburgh Blues and Jazz Festival. The band has released two albums ("Swamp Donkey," "Donkey Business"), sold out New York's Blue Note and B.B. King's, and created a viral "Game of Thrones" video, which has drawn over 1 million viewers. The band frequently tours throughout the US and abroad.
During the summer of 2014, Friend was a guest on Michael Feinstein’s NPR program, “Song Travels.” His compositions have graced NCIS: New Orleans, CBS’s “The Early Show,” and VanityFair.com. Friend has toured with Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, and he has played and recorded with Trombone Shorty, James "12" Andrews, the Treme Brass Band, the late Travis "Trumpet Black" Hill, among a variety of other local talents. You can find him sharing the stage with a plethora of revered musicians throughout New Orleans and New York.
In March of 2016, Sam Friend began an original project entitled “Twin” in honor of his twin sister who passed in October of 2015. This album of new music was recorded at the Parlor Studio in New Orleans, with New Orleans greats Chris Severin on Bass, Geoff Clapp on Drums, and Beck Burger on Wurlitzer, Rhodes and Organ. The album, Twin, was released in December of 2016.