Noted musician with incredible story is coming to the Bicknell Center 

For Sam Baker, every day is good. Every song, a celebration. On Nov. 12, the Austin-based folk singer will be performing in the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts at Pittsburg State University.  

His journey to becoming a touring folk musician began in 1986 after a Peruvian terrorist group placed a bomb in a train car luggage rack that exploded above his head.  

The blast killed several of his fellow passengers, including a child sitting next to him. Only minutes before, at age 32, Baker was a young, healthy man on vacation with friends in an exotic foreign land.   

Barely clinging to life, he suffered multiple traumas, including brain injury, severe hearing loss, and would endure many reconstructive surgeries.  

During his long and painful recovery, melodies and songs started coming to him. But his fingers were broken. Nouns eluded him, and he had to relearn playing a guitar upside down. Several of his songs relate directly to the attack, his near death, and recovery. Others are like short stories, written in the voices of struggling characters who somehow always persevere. Still others ring like hymns. 

His album “Say Grace” was listed by Rolling Stone as one of the top 10 country music albums of 2013, and the next year, he was featured on National Public Radio’s Fresh Air program. 

Now, breaking out from a nearly 18-month pandemic pause in performing, he and his full band — including Radoslav Lorkovic on piano and accordion and string player Tim Lorsch — will reunite for a concert in the Bicknell Center’s 280-seat Dotty and Bill Miller Theater.  

The concert is the first to be produced by the nonprofit music organization Olive Street Presents, Ltd. with the assistance of an arts grant from the Community Foundation of Southeast Kansas.  

Forming the nonprofit was the "pandemic pastime project" of Carol Puckett and Rob Poole of Pittsburg. Since 2009, the couple has hosted nearly 100 house concerts, bringing full-time national and international touring folk musicians into their home for live performances for small audiences in an intimate setting. 

Creating a nonprofit meant taking it to the next level by sharing the music they love with audiences on a larger scale. 

"In the beginning, I had this impulsive idea to buy a venue, but for now, we're just hoping to team up with our two local stages and anyone else to produce some events and see where it goes," Poole said. 

He praised the expertise and passion of the staff at the Bicknell Center. 

"They're eager to have outside organizations bring quality performances to the theater," Poole said. “Hopefully, if we can get a good turnout for our first show, it lays a foundation to do more events in the future. Who knows? Maybe a summer music series, maybe someday a folk festival?" 

Reservations can be made at A donation button on the page will allow ticket buyers to use any bank card. The suggested donation for a general admission seat is $22.