There was no way The Samples could escape the country' natural beauty.
Growing up in upstate Vermont and spending the past two years in Boulder, Colo., singer Sean Kelly and guitarist Charles Hambleton needed only to look out the window for songwriting inspiration.
"It was beautiful in Vermont but it was so cold," said Hambleton, whose folk-meets-reggae style band will perform at Max's On Broadway Tuesday night. "My little brother was going to school in Colorado and he said, 'It's sunny and 90 degrees here.' I looked out the window and snow was covering three quarters of the pane and it was 20 below so I said, 'I'll be out in two weeks.'"
So Hambleton enlisted Kelly, who was already playing with him in a band in Burlington, Vt., to start fresh in the Rockies.
"We got three more players and starting getting some music together immediately," Hambleton said.
The Samples produced a 10-song album that caught the attention of Arista Records last summer. Arista signed the band and decided to use the same self-titled album as the band's debut.
Speaking to a variety of environmental issues and putting some nice melodies behind it, the band swears off the preachy aspects of conservation.
"We've always had a certain respect for nature so it's not like we're jumping on the bandwagon to sing about it," Hambleton said. "But we're not perfect either. We drive around in a tour bus that spews out diesel fumes and doesn't get the greatest gas mileage. We make mistakes every day and we have to fight it. We just want to make people aware that there is beauty there to be preserved and enjoyed."
Up until this point, Kelly has been the unquestioned leader of the band, providing much of the material for the first album.
But since its recording and release, Hambleton said the other members, which include drummer Jeep MacNichol, keyboardist Al Laughlin and bassist Andy Sheldon, have contributed greatly toward new material that the band usually performs during its live shows.
"The music on the album is a little more mellow than our live show," Hambleton said. "There's more energy, more ska stuff and more room to improvise. We like to have fun when we're up on stage."
The concert calendar . . .
Also at Max's: Koko Taylor performs (tonight), Urban Blight (March 21), The Aquanettas (March 23), Tanita Tikarem (April 4), Henry Rollins (April 9) and An Emotional Fish (May 8).
Hammerjacks has Sam Kinison (March 23).
Painters Mill welcomes the Kentucky Headhunters (Saturday), Nelson, Child's Play, The Rayvns and Face Dancer (Monday), Great White, Bullet Boys and Steelheart (March 25), the Bulgarian State Female Choir (March 31) and Cocteau Twins (April 1).
The Grateful Dead performs at the Capital Centre (Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday).
Vanilla Ice is scheduled at the Baltimore Arena (March 31).
Former Byrd Roger McGuinn performs at Tawes Center at the University of Maryland in College Park (April 6).