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Sam Gleaves + Eli Conley

  • The Spotlight Playhouse 100 Churchill Court Berea, KY, 40403 United States (map)
 Sam Gleaves | Photo by  Erica Chambers

Sam Gleaves | Photo by Erica Chambers

7 pm / $10 General / $7 Student / Children Under 12 Free

Join us for a night of music featuring Appalachian singer, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Sam Gleaves, and Americana songwriter Eli Conley (Berkeley, CA) at the Spotlight Playhouse. Eli will be accompanied by Joel Price on mandolin, fiddle & harmonies.


Born and raised in Wythe County in southwest Virginia, Sam Gleaves performs innovative mountain music with a sense of history. Under the direction of local teacher and barber Jim Lloyd, Sam took up stringband instruments as a teenager, including the banjo, guitar, fiddle, autoharp and dulcimer. With his mentor ballad singer Sheila Kay Adams, Sam found his voice and fell in love with the mountain love songs, which he carries into his generation with pride. Sam’s performances combine traditional Appalachian ballads, dance tunes, original songs and the stories that surround the music.

Sam earned a degree in Folklore from Berea College and performed for four years with the Berea College Bluegrass Ensemble, directed by Al White. With that band and as a solo artist, Sam has toured extensively, performing at U.S. venues such as Mountain Stage and the Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour, and abroad in Ireland, England, Canada and Japan. 

Sam writes new songs in the Appalachian tradition, telling stories about love, the home place, working people and present social issues in the mountains. Sam’s music has been featured by National Public Radio, Kentucky Educational Television, West Virginia Public Radio, Appalshop’s WMMT FM, KEXP, Exclaim!, The Windy City Times, The Bitter Southerner and Still Journal. AIN'T WE BROTHERS, Sam's debut record of original songs, is produced by Cathy Fink and was released November, 2015. AIN’T WE BROTHERS has been reviewed by National Public Radio, No Depression, and The Bluegrass Situation. Peggy Seeger called AIN’T WE BROTHERS, "A stunning first album,” saying, “I keep very few albums that I am given. This one’s a keeper."


Eli Conley titled his sophomore album Strong and Tender, but he might well have been describing himself. On stage he’s an earnest yet funny storyteller. His songs address big themes like love, aging, and death through the concrete and immediate details of daily life: a stolen truck, a flopping fish, a dime in the pocket.

Since releasing his debut album At The Seams in 2013, Eli has been featured in the Huffington Post and the Advocate. He’s opened for Grammy-winner Kimya Dawson and the Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, and founded Queer Country West Coast, a regular series featuring LGBTQ country artists in the Bay Area.

Eli’s music is grounded in folk tradition, and he comes by it honestly. He grew up in a small town in central Virginia, and got his musical education listening to his parents’ collection of hundreds of albums by singer-songwriters and roots musicians. He also spent years studying classical singing and picking out Broadway hits of the 40’s and 50’s on the piano. By the time he picked up a guitar at 15, he already had a working knowledge of song structure and music theory – tools that helped him grow into the careful craftsman he is today.

At heart, Eli is a clear-eyed songwriter with high hopes for the human race. His songs urge us to love ourselves even when it feels like the world does not. You can’t help but sing along.

“Oh what gorgeous, soulful music! It knocked me off my easy chair. Eli Conley’s writing and singing are exquisite.” Laura Love

Earlier Event: May 6
Community Garden Kick Off
Later Event: May 13
Berea Makers Market