I play at resorts and a nightclub in Vila, Vanuatu (in the South Pacific), preferring blues and jazz but catering to whatever audience tastes are at the time. With me and my guitar and keyboard, is usually singer Philip Vira and sometimes singer/keyboard Jimmy + singer Alcina Garae. The times I enjoy providing music most are when I'm with friends around home or in the nakamals (kava bars) in Vila or on the other islands of Vanuatu.
Copied from the tourism page of THE INDEPENDENT, Vanuatu mid May 2005..
FROM MILK TINS TO MUSIC STAR :
Sam Charley has come a long way since teaching himself the drums on milk and fish tins. These days, hes working on being Vanuatus next big thing in the music industry.
For a country with a relatively low population, Vanuatu has produced some remarkable musical talents.
Sam Charley is one such talent, joining the likes of Vanessa Quai, as one of the countrys most recognized singing sensations.
Born in Vila of Tongoan origin, Sam lives at Kokoriko Village with mostly other Tongoan people, in an area of Vila called Manples.
This 28 year old father of two used to drive his mum crazy with constant drumming on milk tins, tinned fish, coffee bottles, butter containers; in fact anything he could find around the house, from morning to night.
But it all seems to be paying off, with Sam recently recording his debut album Kava Woman , named after his good friend and kava drinking companion Joy Wu from Kaiviti Village Motel, the albums sponsor.
At about 9 years of age I played as a tiny drummer in a church band crusading in the main street of Vila.
My first paid work as an adult musician was as the drummer with the seven-piece Blue Cycle band which played in Vila and toured the islands, Sam said.
He is self taught with many instruments guitar, bass, drums, piano & keyboard, always taking up opportunities to learn new techniques and build his knowledge of music.
Sam has played at the Waterfront Bar and Iririki Island Resort.
He is now working with two singers, Philip Vira and the Vanuatu Tourism Offices Alcina Garae). Sam adds vocal harmony while playing guitar, piano, keyboard and he programmes backing for their numbers, a skill he improved over some years at Iririki.
Apart from resort work, at times there are outside jobs, entertaining at private functions or nightclubs, weddings, and fundraising at the nakamals.
Sometimes he is alone with his guitar and keyboard, other times with the band, known as Sams Band.
Sam encourages a liking of all types of music and hopes Vanuatu will become a country of people who love other music as well as reggae and string band style.
I take every chance I can get to teach young kids and teenagers the guitar and bass, as guitar is the instrument of choice (and budget) for most youngsters, Sam said.
He said he wishes for a future generation in this country which will appreciate jazz, blues, latin as much as the already popular styles.
Making this Kava Woman CD is a dream come true for Sam, something hes been wanting to do for a long time.
Until now his only recording experience was as backup music for other artists.
He worked on programming most of the instruments for the tracks on this album with Joy at Kaiviti Village Motel Vila, finishing the music and doing the singing at Andrew Meakes studio in Brisbane, AMR Audio.
This was accompanied by many evening kava sessions down at Redcliffe, Sam said.
Kava Woman comprises all original songs he has written either in Bislama or his own Tongoa island language.
I hope it will appeal to the local ni-Vanuatu market and visitors who enjoy island style music.
Even so, Kava Woman features local country swing, some blues, and even a folk song in French.
His plans for the next album include adding more variety, and looking forward to a combination of jazz and blues, latin, rock.
As many styles as I can comfortably include in the selection!
Kava Woman can be purchased at Kaiviti Village Motel, Vila.
I'm having a break from entertaining live, at the moment, spending time on the islands. Normally I have been playing at Iririki Island Resort, Trader Vics Nightclub and others, including helping out with fundraising nights around the place.
So many guitarists and pianists have influenced my music playing habits - Among my favourites are BB King, George Benson, Eric Clapton, and Ray Charles, Elton John, and nowadays Norah Jones. Old rock is my mood of the moment at times, but mostly I'm happier with smoother jazz and blues.
Acoustic and steel guitar and Yamaha keyboard, drums (other peoples) at times.
"Kava Woman" was my first (and only so far) CD. I'm happy also backing others, as I have in recordings and live including Fijian Laisa Vulakoro on her visits.