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Whiskysam Recording Studio | Sound & Light: Press

Music Man | Lisa Casarez Reporting

Musicians spend hours to get the perfect sound. They often get help from others with the details. Today we spend a day in the life of a man who lives for music. You never know where you might find talent and few may know that as much as Sam Makarim. Sam has been a musician since he can remember and his style reflects his international influence. "God, I think I was 12 years old in my first band, and we played in West Africa, Lebanon, we played in England," says Sam Makarim, Music Producer. He is known for playing in an area band but has expanded his musical repertoire and now runs a recording studio from his residence in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Whisky Sam Recording Studio began in 2005 and has slowly been expanding. "You hear a lot about people saying, ‘Keep your day time job’ so maybe that's what we did and I kept my daytime job," says Makarim. Trained as a classical guitarist Sam works for the State Flour Mill, but spends every spare moment his studio doing what he really loves. His love of music is what brought him here and kept him here. "I got it made here, I like the people the culture is nice, I love Grand Forks, it's a great town," says Makarim. The Studio attracts many local artists and bands. "He's got an awesome studio here, he's got all the equipment that you need to record, and you don't have to bring in any of your own stuff in if you don't want to," says Matt Simmons, Musician. Sam said he sees himself as a mentor to young artists and recognizes a lot of talented musicians in the area. "I'm hoping I put some music out there for somebody in this town here that's going to make it, that's going to bring Grand Forks to the map," says Makarim. Sam is proof that no matter what you do for a living you cannot deny your true calling. MTV hired Sam's recording Studio for sound they needed for their reality show “Real Life.” He plans to retire next year and work at his studio full-time.

We'd like to thank Mtv's MADE Survivalist exec. Producer Zachary Behr for letting us do the Voice Over for one of their episodes featuring their Grand Forks talent Molly Sandro. Thanks also to kenny's music for referring us to Mtv,especially Tom .
It was a great experience to work with the crew from Mtv especially Brian Leitten ,Caty daly,Dave Marcus.
Molly was great doing the voice over for the video.
sam - Whiskysam Recording Studio (Oct 23, 2010)
Your song RIDE ALL NIGHT(SEXY 1), were forwarded to Mega Trax for listing # S061026AC!
TAXI (Nov 15, 2006)
Congratulations BIG DOGZ got forwarded to MY MUSIC SOURCE
TAXI (Sep 7, 2008)
Hello WhiskySam,

My name is Doug Reed and I am the executive director of A&R for Illumina Records and Promotions. I just came across your profile. I’m listening to “Road to Hell” right now, and I wanted to let you know about our “Launch Campaign”.

I think you would be a great fit for it.

Illumina is a Boston based full service marketing and publicity firm. We specialize in creating national PR campaigns for local and regional artists.

Throughout this campaign, Illumina will NEVER ask for YOUR money or any rights to YOUR songs.

Please reply to this email or, at your earliest convenience, call Illumina at (978) 922-5015 and ask for me, so I can go over the details of the project with you. If you leave a message, be sure to give your name and number, your bands name, which state you are based in, and say that you are looking to speak with Doug about Launch.

Illumina’s Launch Campaign is a 90–Day project designed to put your music directly into the hands of hundreds of thousands of music fans.

Launch will also provide your career with an immediate and easy way to generate the publicity and exposure essential in taking your music career to the next level.

Launch will provide you with the following benefits:

YOUR ACT will receive 50 CD’s featuring YOUR MUSIC to market to your fans

YOUR MUSIC will be delivered to 1800 music business insiders like Labels, Local Music Directors, College DJ’s, Music Writers and Editors, Talent Buyers…and much more

YOUR MUSIC will be marketed in both your Local Area as well as across the Nation!

YOU will appear on the COVER of a music magazine.

YOUR act will have the opportunity to appear in a CD release event featuring YOU as the headliner.

YOUR ACT will appear in a music guide that is marketed to hundreds of thousands of Music Fans Nationwide.

YOU will have the opportunity to make a difference with your Music by taking part in the GROUND CONTROL drunk driving prevention campaign.

Over 2200 acts and over 12,000 artists have benefited from our campaigns in 48 states.

Availability is limited on this project, so I encourage you to call me ASAP at 978-922-5015.

I look forward to speaking with you!

Thank you,

Doug Reed
A & R Executive Director
Illumina Records
(978) 922 5015
Its been a while since we updated the news on the band members. Since then we lost Steve Hauge ( Bass)back in the early 90's due to a snow cat accident down at round lake.Steve was my first bass player from East Grand forks when I first came to the USA,we formed the band ODESSA.
Jeff AAsen ( Steel Guitar)died IN THE 2000'S.Jeff played steel gtr with me in the band BLACKWALL HITCH in the 80's.
Then Jim Beiswenger (Bass)died in the early 2000 "s.Jimbo gave the crowd more than music,he made them laugh and he never took himself seriously,he was the life of the party.
then Phil martin (Bass0 died a couple of years ago.Phil was the founder of the band BLACKWALL HITCH.
Then Max Lemke (bass) from Thief River Falls died this year after a courageous battle w/cancer .Max has a young son Sam Lemke,he is a phoenomenonal musician.he plays drums and guitars.
Also this year 2010 we lost Steve Traube fondly known as (SKULL).Skull was the founder of the KAY JAM .he got all sorts of musicians together at the PARROT'S KAY on Tuesday nites and jammed with everyone.Skull was a very kind man he was preceded by the death of his mother whiom he really cared for the last few years.
WHISKYSAM - Death News (Oct 22, 2010)
Dear Sami, Congratulations! The following song was forwarded to Dispatch listing # D070514IN APACHE The company is Boo Riley Productions / Marvelous Media
TAXI (May 17, 2007)
Congratulations Sam Makarim your song SALLITTO has bee sent to Q MUSIC COLLECTIVE.
TAXI (Sep 17, 2007)
Your song GUITAR SAM were forwarded to Noteborn Music for listing # S070112MR!
TAXI (Feb 6, 2007)
our cd's VAGABOND & UNCENSORED are available at Best Buy
BEST BUY stores (Aug 10, 2008)
OurCd's are selling @ Barnes & Noble
"Uncensored":Whiskysam ,a long time and well known area rock group,has released its fourth CD,"Uncensored,"which includes original songs written by Sam D Mkakarim as well as 6 cover songs,and four classical guitar tracks.Musicians on the recording include Makarim,Brian M Brian and Nate Sjoblom,vocals;Bill Martinez,Joe Bailey and Skull,drums and percussion;Brian Rustebakke,bass;and Josh Smothers,guitar. To;and;701-741-4667
Paulette tobin - Grand forks Herald (Jun 23, 2008)
RadioIndy Review of your "Uncensored" CD

Whiskysam’s "Uncensored” is a riff-driven hard rock album that will truly make your head bang like it was 1986. This album boasts an amazing twenty-three tracks of non-stop, action-packed North Dakota rock & roll. The album, although mostly hard rock, has some unique experimental tracks; "Kiss," for instance, has aspects of many genres, including techno and trance. The album also has some slower ballad songs such as the heartfelt confession of true love in "You." “Sexy” is another standout track, with a true-to-their-roots hard rock riff, a blistering guitar solo, and some synth in the background. “Uncensored” uses great production techniques, including vocal effects and synth backgrounds to fatten up the already extremely heavy sound, while maintaining the rawness of the vocals and arrangements. Overall, “Uncensored” is a great pickup with a solid collection of songs from an up-and-coming band that everyone should take notice of. Great for fans of Creed, Nickelback, Puddle of Mudd, and hard rock in general.
-Ross Shotland
radio indie (Aug 7, 2008)
Whiskysam:Sam Makarim and his band ,Whiskysam,have recorded their third CD"Vagabond",a CD that Makarim describes as "more mainstream"and with songs such as "Suicide"and "Speedkill", more issue oriented.
Previous recordings:"On the Roxx" 2000;"Phoenician Nights","2006.
About "Vagabond":"If you listen to the style of every song, there will be a mellow part and then it explodes," Makarim said. Example: "Puzzle."
About Sam: Makarim has a degree in music from UND with an emphasis in classical guitar. He's worked for 16 years at the ND State Mill.
Sam's Influences: "I was taught and influenced by the great Armenian guitarist Paul Gauro in Beirut, Lebanon, back in 1962." He describes his style as Mediterranean rock influenced by the Beatles, Beethoven, Led Zeppelin, Mozart, Deep Purple, Metallica and more. Band members: Drummer Bill Martinez, Brian M. Brian on bass and vocals. Brian Rustebakke and Jenny Z (she dosen't use a last name according to Sam) play bass occasionally.
What's next? Whiskysam is about halfway through recording its next CD. "I'm taking South American beats and mixing them with Heavy Metal Riffs." Makarim said.
Grand Forks Herald (Jun 5, 2007)
'Phoenician Nights'

- Genre: 'Heavy Metal' - Release Date: '2005'

Our Rating:
Even his name rocks.

Listening to "Phoenician Nights" is like drinking shots of hard liquor; it'll create rugburns on your tongue. Whiskysam ( is all about the Big Riff, his guitars like hot-wheeled tires that smoke over the asphalt.

This is classic heavy metal - no nonsense, no compromises. Before dissonant garbage such as Korn and Slipknot, metal acts were able to combine both sonic toughness with radio-ready hooks.

Just one blast of "Sexy" on "Phoenician Nights" will kick listeners back into the decadent rock & roll days of Motley Crue and Def Leppard. "I wanna feel your body heat," Whiskysam sings, his guitars dripping with lust.

But it's not all fun and games. "American Soldier" is a stirring homage to the heroes of the U.S. military. It's an anthem that packs quite a wallop, especially the "Apocalypse Now!" helicopters that burst from the speakers. On "Bin Laden," Whiskysam creates a deceptively peaceful and tender narrative that is torn asunder by fears of death.

There is some electrifying guitar playing here, especially on the epic "God of War" with its bodice-ripping solos. No headbanger should live without this.
author: Adam Harrington
Whiskysam - Phoenician Nights
Whiskysam - Phoenician Nights
Written by Michael Sutton

It rocks. To the head bangers in the audience, that’s all you need to know about Whiskysam’s Phoenician Nights album.

Yes, the words "it rocks" are long past clichéd and somewhat juvenile to use in a professional music review, but that’s the goal of this record. To rock. To rock you all night long. To kick you in the nuts. To have buxom, scantily-clad college girls knocking on your door with a six-pack. The latter probably won’t happen, but Phoenician Nights will explode from your speakers with ‘70s and ‘80s-styled raunch & roll.

Remember when Van Halen was a group that you’re parents didn’t want you to listen to before they actually became one they actually liked? Listen to Whiskysam’s "Sexy" and relish in the political incorrectness of this anthem of pure lust. However, lyrics aren’t really the point here. Heavy metal is about power, the thunderous crack of electric guitars and shouted choruses. And Whiskysam delivers, especially on "God of War," which will make any of today’s metal wanna-be’s bow to Sam Makarim’s fiery soloing. Makarim’s Mediterranean influences also give the music an exotic feel that is deeply refreshing in this genre, especially on "Bin Laden."

Although its main focus is to provide listeners a good time, Whiskysam isn’t afraid of serious subject matter, chastising the enemy on "Bin Laden" and paying tribute to U.S. troops on "American Soldier."
Interview by Karla Ash

Whiskysam: Glam Metal With A Protest Edge

On one hand, Whiskysam celebrates the kind of debauchery that the '80s spandex-metal brigade took to the bank, but there's another side to the group. Vocalist-guitarist Sam Makarim isn't afraid to confront life's darker realities, and in an interview he is just as blunt and unafraid as he is in music.

Karla Ash: How did you get your name, Whiskysam?

Sam Makarim: The Whiskysam name sucks. The original members were sitting drinking whisky three days after the band was formed. I got calls from venues, bars, etc., for bookings asking us what name do you wanna go by? The assholes picked Whiskysam, whatever.

Ash: On "American Soldier," you pay tribute to U.S. troops. Were you ever in the military?

Makarim: We were never in the military. I hate armies, violence, and wars. I feel sorry for all the innocent military people and their families who get dragged into straightening out the world's problems. It really sucks, but somebody has to do it.

Ash: Do you consider yourself political?

Makarim: As you get older you get wiser and dumber, too? I wish everybody would get along. We live in a beautiful world and somebody is going to enjoy it sooner or later because there is more love and wisdom to overcome evil and destruction in every man's heart.

Ash: How long have you been a musician and what made you decide to become one?

Makarim: I was born in Nigeria from Lebanese parents, and I started playing and singing when I was ten years old. I played my first concert two months after I picked up the guitar.
WhiskySam/Phoenician Nights

WhiskySam sent his CD in from Grand Forks North Dakota and says he was kicked out of previous places of residence including England, Beirut and Nigeria. Well ND is an interesting departure from those other ungrateful countries and I am sure that the Grand Forks music scene is something to behold. Sam majored in classical guitar and has a Bachelor of Arts in Music, which next to a degree in liberal arts is one of the best money making sheep skins to possess.

Describing his music as a hybrid of Mediterranean music and Heavy Metal, Phoenician Nights begins the hard rocking “Gods of War”, that offers up garden variety anti-war lyrics, crunchy guitar, a busy drum pad and somewhat muddy singing. However, if I were to describe Sam’s vocals they sound similar to 60’s rocker Jack Bruce. Track three, “American Soldier”, employs a similar 16th note drum part and heavy guitar onslaught. Unfortunately, since the Whiskey man is playing most the instruments and is stuck with programmed drums in place of real traps, the musical arrangement suffers from a linear sound.

After four axe heavy songs, Sam dishes up the title track “Phoenician Nights”, a tune that offers one of the best melodies, pretty finger picking acoustic guitar and a feel reminiscent of Greg Lake. This is a nice piece of songwriting with a chorus that delivers a good payoff. I also liked the next instrumental track called “Guitar Sam” that is creative synthesis of surf guitar and country western. “Lebanon” also employs interesting use of both guitar and keyboard, presenting Middle Eastern influences neatly packaged in a pleasant instrumental.

I have mixed feelings about WhiskySam, as I did not like much of the less than extraordinary guitar slamming he seems to enjoy. I did like the softer creative material such as the aforementioned instrumentals and lighter rock ballad “I Miss You”. If I was his creative guru, I would advise him to lose the Marshall amps, get a Fender Twin or Super Reverb and concentrate on developing focus on his more melodic side; for my money this is where his talent shines. Madmonk Overall Grade: B-
madmonk (Oct 12, 2006)
Congratulations, my friend. Take a look at No. 16.

Michael Sutton
Promotions & Publicity

1. Samantha 7: I wanna be famous
2. Moot Davis: Thick of it now
3. The Blazers: And I feel it
4. American Dog: Too damn sober-Foamin' at the mouth Live
5. American Dog: Dog will hunt
6. Walk The Sky: Castles in the sand
7. Frankenstein 3000: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
8. American Dog: Sunday Buzz
9. Hilljack: I'll drink to that
10. Cherie Currie and the Street Walking Cheetahs: Cherry Bomb
11. Silver: China Girl
2 pm
12. Barry Russo: Are you listening?
13. Stephen Pearcy: Dream machine
14. American Dog: Got you by a chain-Foamin' at the mouth Live
15. American Dog: Under the blade
16. Whisky Sam: God of War
17. Zan Clan: Mess ya up
18. American Dog: Burnin' yesterday
19. American Dog: She ain't real pretty, but she's all I've got
20. BJ Thomas: Nashville Rain
East coast radio chart @16 (Feb 19, 2006)
I was blown away by the new band that Iam producing made up of Matt Simmons and Shane Bartlett,mainstream all originals acoustic guitar based , beautiful harmonies. Check it out
sam - whiskysam studio (Jun 11, 2011)
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(Nov 4, 2014)