Originally from Lincoln, Nebraska, Sam played piano and sang in boys' choir before picking up his first pair of drumsticks in 5th grade. Late nights spent improvising in friends' parents' basements eventually revealed to him the wisdom of moving to the Bay Area, where he studied percussion with William Winant and drum set with Peter Magadini and George Marsh.
Currently based in Oakland, California, Sam plays drums in the indie-rock meets experimental jazz trio Beep, the free improvising group Timosaurus, the jazz trio Anteater, a drum and voice duo with Lorin Benedict, the new and improvised music ensemble The Oakland Active Orchestra, The Permanent Wave Ensemble (a tribute to Carla Bley), and the pop band Kapowski. He performed with Cecil Taylor, Leo Smith, and Maryanne Amacher at Mills College, where he received his MFA in percussion performance.
Since then he has played or recorded with William Winant, Tuneyards, The SF Contemporary Music Players, Angelica Sanchez, Ches Smith, John Schott, Ava Mendoza, and Miles Kurosky.