11 September 2019

Wow! Did you see Sam Stevenson on the telly last night?

| Ian Campbell
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Sam Stevenson. Photo: Ian Campbell.

Sam Stevenson. Photo: Ian Campbell.

Wow! Did you see Sam Stevenson on the telly last night?

That moment where the voices of Vika and Linda rolled in behind one of our own – magic! I need to watch that again – goosebumps!

“It was an amazing opportunity to be a part of,” Sam says.

“I got to sing with some of the best voices in Australia, it was such an honour, I didn’t feel like I deserved it, but I was so happy to be a part of that, it was incredible.”

The Recording Studio on ABC TV culminated last night after nine weeks celebrating the joy and power of music and those who do it.

The series has put everyday Australians centre stage with the opportunity of a lifetime – to professionally record a song in the ABC studios in Sydney with the industry’s very best backing them all the way.

They leave with the “the gift of a song” – a vinyl recording to mark the moment and share the experience.

What the series captured and rekindled last night was Sam’s stand-out performance with The Figmentz at the Band Together concert last May following the Tathra and District Bushfires. Sam and the big band behind him belted out “With a Little Help From My Friends” immortalised by Joe Cocker at Woodstock.

Over $160,000 was raised on that day for those who lost their home, but more than that it drew on the healing power of music, and of a shared experience.

“It’s changed my life in a lot of ways, to sing to so many people who were healing together as a community,” Sam muses.

Sam not only comes to this as a performer but also as a member of the Merimbula Rural Fire Service and one of those who stood on the front line at Tathra on that hideous day in March 2018. That time in front of the flames influences his musical performance in a way that is impossible to put words to, which is why music carries the message so beautifully.

As the vessel of this advice for our soul, Sam is still reflecting on the experience.

“To see the people you know and love, to see their lives ripped apart in front of you, was a really confronting experience as a firey,” he says.

“Yes it’s a brave thing to go in and fight a fire but we quite often don’t remember what the after-effects can be for people.

“We lost a lot of homes on that day, but we also saved a lot.”

Sam and his brigade watched last night’s Recording Studio together at their HQ at the top of Merimbula, another opportunity to come together, reflect on events, and support each other – a little help from friends.

When it comes to translating the experience of Band Together to the TV screen, Sam says it was an impossible job, so they looked to honour the moment but make something new – with the best in the business.

“I knew all of the faces when I walked in the room and I nearly fell over backwards,” he says.

“To actually deliver in front of those sort of musos and for them to be so amped about what happened really changes your perspective on life.”

Working with the likes of The Black Sorrows, Boy and Bear, and the Jimmy Barnes band has left a mark on Sam, the power of music is still at play.

“Most of them asked me – where have you been? What have you been doing? This [music] should absolutely be what you are doing,” Sam says, uncomfortable with the attention.

“That was a real shock, I’ve always loved music, and always had a really good reception when I have played music but to go to that next level, and to have high-class professionals suggest it to you, that resonates – it’s nice for the ego.”

Since recording the TV show many months ago Sam has started working on his own album of original material that will be released later this year, drawing on the same local talent he played with at Band Together.


Around his music, Sam’s influence on the communities of South East NSW is charged by his role at Wellways. Sam manages the local team in the Bega Valley, Eurobodalla, and Snowy Monaro. Wellways is a not-for-profit mental health and disability support organisation.

“We are blessed down here with community participation in a social ethic and working with people who are less fortunate, I love that about our community, ” Sam says.

“Can we do anything better? Absolutely.

“Any community has the ability to not judge someone immediately, someone who is different to me or might seem like they are going through a hard time.

“People often need support and not just from services, the community is a resource that can create recovery for people. Where people are accepted – regardless.

“When somebody gets a cup of coffee and [the person] behind the counter smiles and asks – are you okay? Are you have a good day? That goes a hell of a long way.”

Did you miss the wisdom and talent of Sam Stevenson on the telly last night? Catch up now via ABC iView. Band Together Two is coming up on November 30.

Thank you Sam! You do deserve this.

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