ABOUT

Of Sam’s birth and formative years, very little is surely known. According to legend, Suitcase Sam was born Leon Stanislaus Czologosz on 8 September 1985. It is believed that he is the great great grandson of the anarchist Leon Czologosz, who, on the sixth of September 1901, shot and killed President William McKinley in Buffalo, New York. The circumstances and lineage of his mother remain shrouded in mystery.

Sam's father, Alexander Berkman Czologosz, was a railroad engineer with the Central Pacific, operating out of Newcastle, California. In his earliest years, Sam saw the even-then-dilapidated train yards of Newcastle and Truckee, Reno, Wadsworth, Winnemucca, Battle Mountain, Elko and Wells. Soon after their arrival, Sam’s father fell to drink and abandoned Sam at a tender age to the Railroad, who embraced the boy as one of its own. From 1985 to 1998, Sam lapped up the miles, and licked the valleys up—he peered into shanties by the sides of the roads and there seemed to stand before the world as it has always been.

It is believed that it was there on the train line that Sam drank up the great American musical traditions—his grizzled protectors on the engine yard filling him brim-full with religious awe, laying him reverently down at the feet of the old masters: Mississippi John Hurt, Emmett Miller and the great Jimmie Rodgers. Young Sam distinguished himself, though still a child, by his unique guitar and vocal stylings, and by a genteel demeanor that seemed beyond his years. Loved though he was on the Central Pacific, when he was just fourteen he struck out on his own.

His professional career began with the Hell-Bound Fiddle Band, working out of a bar room near Pontoon Crossing on the Pecos River. There he studied the great traditions of American fiddle, Cowboy poetry, Swiss yodeling, and the Hokum blues. He became a connoisseur of ragtime string, the Lomax collection and the very best of Memphis jug; he drank from the fountainhead of the muses: the Mississippi Sheiks, the Ascension Choir, Sonny Boy Terry and Brownie McGhee.

In 2003, nearly a man, Sam moved north, to Toronto, Ontario. Like rockabilly Ronnie Hawkins and the indefatigable Leon Redbone before him, Sam hoped to make his tracks in the snow, amid the dizzying eclecticism of the Toronto scene.

By 2010, now wearing proudly the epithet “Suitcase”—by virtue of his ever-present Samsonite—Sam had begun to piece together the now legendary Suitcase Band, starting with Toronto luminary Robin Hatch, soon to be joined by Champagne Charlie Crenshaw, Brent Randal, and a rotating cast of scrappers and troubadours. His first 45" appeared in 2010 on the Pleasance record label. His sophomore release, Waiting on a Train, was released in 2012.  Sam's first full length LP is coming soon.