Carter Sampson performs pop-up show – The Durango Herald

Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College Performances do not always have to take place in the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College.

Much of Durango is familiar with the Buckley Park Concert Hall’s outdoor summer concert series, the free events held on Thursday nights from midsummer through early fall. Recently, the concert hall expanded to a smaller venue, hosting performances on Fridays at the Smiley Cafe, located in the Smiley Building in downtown Durango. These smaller, more intimate events, dubbed “pop-up performances,” will feature artists on track to play in medium to larger sized venues such as the Concert Hall; It’s also a way of introducing local music lovers to new, up-and-coming artists.

“We want to introduce songwriters that Durango music lovers may not be aware of, and introduce Durango to songwriters who may not be familiar with Durango,” said Charles Leslie, director of the Community Concert Hall.

The next pop-up performance will feature Carter Sampson, an Oklahoma singer-songwriter whose recent release Lucky walks a line between alternative country and gritty folk while maintaining a rooted, twang-noir vibe.

She has released five records and has performed in songwriting competitions at a number of national festivals. These competitions led to her placing as a finalist in the Troubadour Contest at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and winning the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at MerleFest in North Carolina. She even runs a rock ‘n’ roll summer camp for girls in Oklahoma. That’s not a bad streak in the music world for someone who got expelled from the choir in eighth grade.

WHAT: Pop-up performance with Carter Sampson.

IF: 7 p.m. Friday (January 21).

WHERE: Smiley Cafe, 1309 East Third Ave.

TICKETS: $20. Available online at

MORE INFORMATION: Call 247-7657 or visit

“I think that’s why I picked up the guitar,” Sampson said. “I love singing so much I didn’t want anyone telling me I wasn’t good enough; That was in my early teens and I just haven’t stopped since.”

Sampson grew up on a healthy dose of late ’80s and early ’90s independent music – everything from the punk rock of the “Riot Grrrl” movement to the aggro-folk of Ani DiFranco. Her Oklahoma upbringing at the time also provided for a plethora of country music.

“I think the music from back then, the country music that drove me crazy and I was really embarrassed to be from Oklahoma, is some of the music I love the most now,” she said. “It’s interesting how that’s changed since you were a teenager when you think a lot of things are goofy.”

Now, the country music she loves is of the classic and cosmic variety, as she continues to be influenced by the likes of Emmylou Harris, Dwight Yoakum, and Gram Parsons. As a storyteller, she tends to stay away from the political side of music.

“It’s just not a part of me. I have my beliefs, but I just don’t like talking about them,” she said. “I found people like Patty Griffin and I realized that you can make beautiful music and still make people happy and still be as powerful as someone who is a political writer.”

Sampson will be solo for her Durango performance; Without the support of a full band, she is able to tell more about her songs and life, and expand the narrative found in her music.

“I have a full band and trio that I also tour with and I love doing all three different shows, they’re all fun,” she said. “But the solo thing is great because I love telling stories. I love being able to talk between songs and it seems like there’s more intimacy with the audience.”

Sampson also recently wrapped up recording for her next album, due out later in 2022.

Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. Reach him at [email protected]

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