TV Times

Sam the Man and the Band

By Susitha R. Fernando

With nearly five decades of experience, veteran musician Sam the man with a new back up band comprising veteran musicians is to entertain his fans throughout the new year 2011. Versatile singer and experienced saxophonist Sam is joined by Ryle Hanwellage on the lead guitar, Thushara Silva on the keyboard, Royely de Andrews on drums and Dharshana Mawalage in bass guitar will play at some of the leading hotels in Colombo and down south.

Ryle with over 25 years of experience is one of the most versatile lead guitarists in the country while Thushara Silva is well known for his keyboard performances. Royely de Andrews is a rare talent as he represents one of the very few jazz drummers in the country. At present Royely is also the drums instructor at Lyceum International School Nugegoda and Panadura.

Dharshana Mawalage has been in music scene since he left St Peter’s College, Bambalapaitiya. For more than 20 years Dharshana had been playing with various bands as a lead guitarist and Bassist. Dharshana is also an audio recording expert and had been an Audio Recording Engineer at Janakala Studio.

The four member band together with Sam plays at Serendip Bentota on Fridays, Blue water on Saturdays, Grand Orientel Hotel on Sundays and at Mount Lavinia on first Mondays.

Sam who leads the band had been a master entertainer of both local and foreign audiences. As soon as he left school, Sam took to saxophone in the popular swing and dance band of that era- The Manhattans. His first booking was with Leonard Franke’s band ‘The Manhattans’ in 1957. Sam was one of the pioneers to introduce the ‘Sing-a-long’ sessions which have turned out to be a must for music lovers.

In 1961 he led the band Escorts a five piece band with saxophonist Saybhan Samat, and they played regularly at the then happening places the halls at Siri Kotha, Girls Friendly Society, Women’s International and at the popular Railway officers hall at Mount Mary. This was a completely novel experience for music lovers and their repertoire was dance music - only instrumentals - like the cha-cha, samba, waltz, rock’n roll etc.

On the request of Tony Fernando in 1964 Sam played for the Jetliners while keeping the Escorts going. It was in 1966 the band ‘Sam the Man’ with a compelling sound of two saxes from Sam and Saybhan, two trumpets - from Neville Peiris and Denzil Lazaraus was started. Others in the band were Jimmy Peck piano, the Schwalie brothers, Dicky- bass, Errol - lead guitar, Maithri Mervyn de Zilva - drums, the female glitz Esme de Silva - vocals and Maurice Balasingham - male vocalist. For extra colour the go go girls - in vogue then - Sandra Barrington, Sherine Peck and Asuntha Herft.

They all made up ‘Sam the Man’ the band that found swift success. Competition was high, it was a common thing for members to move from one band to another. Personnel changed and so Gabo Pieris joined Sam the Man as drummer and Priyanthi Manamperi as vocalist and in the following years by Noeline Mendis (Honter).

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