$10 in advance/$12 at the door

5pm doors/7pm showtime

Join Sam and Brian’s for a special early evening performance, from 7 PM till 9 PM




Sam Miltich is a self-taught jazz guitarist born and raised in the woods of northern Minnesota. Sam burst on the scene in his teens as a young lion of gypsy jazz, joining Paul Mehling's Hot Club of San Francisco and touring internationally with the world-renowned Robin Nolan Trio.  Sam's fluid and instinctive sound has graced hundreds of stages, from small town bars on the Iron Range to Lincoln Center.

In addition to fronting his own band, the Clearwater Hot Club, Sam records and performs extensively with Minneapolis-based jazz singers, Connie Evingson and Charmin Michelle; legendary Twin Cities saxophonist Dave Karr; and Dutch swing violin maestro, Tim Kliphuis.  Sam has also collaborated with mandolin virtuoso Peter Ostroushko and classical guitarist Joan Griffith. In 2010, he received a grant to study intensively with Belgian guitar icon Fapy Lafertin and has since then received many more regional and federal arts grants to further his musical development and creative projects. In addition to gypsy swing and traditional jazz Sam's musical interests include Brazilian choro, French musette, Eastern European tamburitza, and other forms of traditional folk music. 

By choice, Sam lives in northern Minnesota, performing at a very high level while maintaining life in a working class, small-town setting. Sam is committed to bringing world-class jazz to a part of the country where live jazz performances are otherwise quite rare.  In addition to a busy touring schedule, Sam also hosts a weekly Jazz at the VFW night in his home town of Grand Rapids, MN where audiences can expect to see frequent cameo appearances by well-known musicians from the Twin Cities and beyond.  He also organizes the Itasca Orchestra String Program Summer Jazz Camp which teaches young classically-trained musicians how to improvise. 

Sam has also been featured on National Public Radio's “Weekend Edition,” and performed for Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion.  He also hosted his own radio program "Sam and Friends" which showcased a year of interviews with renown Minnesota jazz musicians for KAXE radio.







I was born in New York in 1961 and raised in Providence Rhode Island by two artists in the 60’s. We moved to Saint Paul, Minnesota when I was nine but had a summer home in Cape Cod where I spent every summer of my childhood life until I was 18. I was surrounded by all sorts of music and influenced in early years by folk, classical and jazz as a youngster through my family, my mother, father and two brothers. I started learning to play guitar around the dining room table, trying to play the basic chords of the songs my mother and father would sing. Folk songs like John Henry, Worried Man Blues and Midnight Special sung by my father and Leonard Cohen songs (The Flower Song) that my mother sang. A lot of singing and playing would happen after dinner and at parties. My brother Joe played guitar and Dan played the banjo. So I grew up with folk music being played all around me and this is how it started. After a while I could play chords like C, D, and G. Also when I was seven my older brother, Joe, gave me an electric guitar and I immediately wanted to play electric guitar. When my mother started me taking classical piano lessons in St. Paul (nine years old)I wanted to be in a rock band. We formed our first band when I was in 6th grade and played piano, bass and guitar.

Throughout grade school we listened to and played The Beatles and CCR and later turning to play guitar in the band we progressed to harder rock like the Stones, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. I idolized Jimmy Page and learned all the Zeppelin tunes. Because of this I have always considered myself a Jimmy Page disciple. Playing in a band and having the ability to play popular and rock tunes on guitar was a true joy but thinking of music as an art form and to create a sound that was altogether original caused an inner conflict. My father always said to compose was a higher art form than to play.

I had heard how western music had changed through the ages. How from Baroque to 20th century symphonic music had evolved. This same evolution occurred in American Jazz. I heard how jazz had progressed from its Dixieland inception in the early 1900’s through swing and bebop to the complexities of 1960’s avant-garde and back again to Miles Davis and Wes Montgomery’s throwback of cool jazz. I would find a new challenge, that of jazz improvisation. This to me would be composition on the fly and it would satisfy within my own mind my father’s notion of composer vs. player. So, as it was, in high school I past a point in my jazz journey, a point such that I would never turn back. I had heard jazz all my life but at that point I started to really listen to the Jazz greats like Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Gerry Mulligan, Thelonious Monk and others (the list is very long because my mother and father both loved jazz). I wanted so much to play this type of music on guitar and thought it couldn’t be done. I had only played folk and rock music on the guitar. After all guitar was a rock instrument.

My life changed when I heard Joe Pass, Portraits of Duke Ellington. I couldn’t believe my ears. “Jazz,” I thought, “really can be played on guitar.” Then there were many others like Tal Farlo, Kenny Burrell, Django Reinhardt, John McLaughlin, George Benson, Pat Martino, Steve Kahn, John Abercrombie and my all time favorite Wes Montgomery. But I want to make clear I had (and have) many guitar heroes. Suddenly more than ever I wanted to study guitar seriously and my mother promptly provided me with one of the finest instruments I have ever owned, a 1963 Gibson Hummingbird Acoustic Guitar and found me a very fine guitar teacher. His name was Dave Pederson at the West Bank School of Music. Dave taught me technique and theory. I thought jazz was more interesting because it was so much richer in every way: harmonically, rhythmically and melodically. This gave rise to more expression and color when playing and soloing. This thinking has remained tightly woven within my music interests and has shaped what I play and listen to.

I learned jazz harmony from Dave Pederson, 7th chords and their embellishments and how all these chords are grouped and connected. And scales! I learned the modes of the major scale and the pentatonic scale. I learned the harmonic minor and melodic minor, the natural minor and the dorian minor. After two years of studying with Dave I was hired (sixteen years old) by the West Bank School of Music as a rock guitar teacher. My special skill was the ability to learn, transcribe and teach a song to a student in one half hour lesson.

I graduated from Highland Park Senior High School in 1979 and promptly attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. This was tough. Being far away from home without the support of my family and friends it felt like I was going from a guitar guru to just another guitar player. And I was… just another guitar player. It was much too overwhelming for me and I lasted only one year. But the experience of being around some top musicians combined with the classroom training proved to be enriching and everlasting. I Returned to the Twin Cities and began to teach guitar and play with any type of band that would have me whenever I could. I made a living at it but started to see that the life of a musician would be a hard one. Further education and means of making a living would be required.

I started at University of Minnesota with the intention of becoming a Mechanical Engineer (ME). I was first accepted to the College of Liberal Arts and not the Institute of Technology (IT) where I could earn a Mechanical Engineering degree but a student who is accepted to one college at the University of Minnesota is able to take classes in other colleges. This included the classes that constitute the ME curriculum. I acted as though I was a Mechanical Engineering student and took all the classes that were required to get the degree. One of the required classes was a computer programming class. I knew then that Computer Science was a good fit for me and when I was finally accepted to IT I declared my major as Computer Science. There was only one year in my life (after the age of seven) I didn’ t play guitar regularly. It was the 1985/1986 school year. Even though I still had my 1963 Gibson Hummingbird after my first summer internship at AT&T Information Systems in Denver Colorado I earned enough money to buy an electric guitar. I bought a Gibson Les Paul Jr. and a guitar amplifier.

I continued to play through college, playing jazz in coffee houses with a friend. Then in 1990 our old highschool band got together for fun. The next week we had our first gig. This started me off in rock and blues bands for another seven years. Moving out of the city to Grand Portage in 2000 when my father died I recorded my first (and only released) CD, called Red Rock. This CD was recorded in 2000 and released in 2003. The sound of Red Rock can be described as easy listening smooth jazz. Since then I have been practicing and playing mostly jazz.

Staying in Grand Portage I played solo jazz moving briefly to Bemidji for a year where I played jazz and recorded several different styles of music. Then in 2009 in Grand Portage I started using a looper in live performance. I use the looper to record chords and then play the melody and solo over the chords. I then realized I could incorporate a drum machine and expand my repertoire to blues and rock.