Maria Sebastian
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Maria Sebastian

Band Pop Singer/Songwriter


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From Camilla and Roger McGuinn's blog page: (Written by Camilla.)

"The previous time we were in Buffalo, Roger and I were walking through the Walden Galleria Mall and heard the sound of a wonderful voice drifting our way. The mall was celebrating something, as malls often do, with a stage and music. An attractive woman was standing bravely on stage by herself singing her heart out to shoppers passing on their way. We stood by a store window and listened to her last song. Roger loved her voice. I approached her and asked her name and contact information telling her that my husband would someday like to have her as his opening act. Later in the evening at Rockwell Hall, I mentioned to Jeff, the promoter, that Roger would like to have Maria Sebastian open for him the next time he played the venue. Jeff was familiar with Maria and made a note of Roger's request. When this show was scheduled, Jeff arranged for Maria to be on the bill. I opened The Buffalo News on March 30 looking for advertisements for Roger's show. The headline that I saw on the front page of the entertainment section was, "THE WEEK: Maria Sebastian is a storyteller with a guitar." Mark Sommer, a reporter we have worked with for years, interviewed Maria about how she became the opening act for Roger McGuinn. She told Mark about the day a woman approached her about opening for her husband but she didn't recognize the musician's name. That night she Googled him and was shocked and embarrassed. She wasnÕt the first one to be caught unaware by this quiet troubadour. Maria was the sparkling local celebrity singing to a happy hometown crowd at Rockwell Hall on March 30, 2007. Roger enjoyed listening to her through the speakers in his dressing room. I enjoyed musicians coming to my "lemonade stand" and letting me know when they would be performing at the mall. There were a lot of smiles leaving the venue that night." - The Roadie

Edited full page interview. Pulled out a good quote.

"Sebastian is one of Buffalo's best-kept secrets. With material as good as this, that ought to change soon." - Mark Sommer, Buffalo News - 2007 - The Buffalo News

Edited full article in Artvoice. Pulled out a quote.

"Sebastian is one of the most talented rising artists in this area." - Shaun Smith, Artvoice - 2007 - Artvoice Magazine

I adore Maria Sebastian. As a singer songwriter she is up there with the best in my opinion. As a live performer she has never failed to entertain me whether in a cover band, solo or with her own band. Her latest release Songs I Wrote in the Car offers an acoustic batch of songs that she has not recorded before but felt the need to document and as a way to focus on writing new material. She gets helps here from three Buffalo Music Hall of Famer's Jerry Agustyniak on drums, Jim Whitford on guitar and Nelson Starr on guitar. Cave Wilson (drums), Tom Mangione (bass) and Tim Mroz (bass) also lend a hand. Her sincere vulnerability is exposed on "Nothin" To Me" and the up tempo full band sound of "Easier" features some nice guitar work from Whitford. "Goin Away", "I Should've Known" and "The Driver's Side" score here as well. For more on one of my favorites, Maria Sebastian, and how to purchase her CDs, go to

- Best of Western New York (Bob Sylvestri)

Full article. Main quote:

"Brilliant set..." - Amy Wellock, Club Cafe, Pittsburgh

- Club Cafe--Pittsburgh

"If Maria Sebastian doesn't soon eclipse Natalie Merchant and any other voice from the Buffalo region, I'll be amazed. Her writing is both spooky and bold, and the sound of her voice will make you leave your comfortable bed and go sleep in the woods. She haunts you like that." -- Author Joel Gardner - Joel Gardner (Son of John Gardner--Famous Author)

“What I love about musicians is that you meet them once, and the very next time you see them, you hug.” -Maria Sebastian
Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News

Updated: 01/11/09 08:14 AM

People Talk / A Conversation with Maria Sebastian
Moving musically from gig to gig
By Jane Kwiatkowski
News Staff Reporter

Maria Sebastian has been performing around town for years, writing soulful songs and singing in cover bands like her current one, Buffalo Rising. Sebastian, in fact, has been singing since her childhood on the West Side. At 35, this adjunct English professor has begun to focus on her own material, and will soon release a new CD called “Yellow Envelope.” Catch her act some weekend - any weekend.

PT: You play every weekend?
MS: Yeah. I don't remember taking any time off. Maybe a weekend here and there, but I've consistently played. When I had my son I probably took six weeks off.

PT: What is the secret to longevity in Buffalo?
MS: Maybe I can change the question a bit because what I want to shout out to younger artists is that you can't break out from here. I only know one person who was actually discovered here. His name is Alan Kroll. All the others - including 10,000 Maniacs, Goo Goo Dolls, Ani DiFranco, Gary Mallaber, Raven - left Buffalo and they made it. They toured.

PT: Are Buffalo performers a tight lot?
MS: Oh yeah. I know so many people who have moved away. I see them leave and I always thought it would be me leaving. I never thought I would stay this long, but I'm happy being home. For example, I was a fan of Mark Freeland's when I was 12. I'm so glad I was able to watch him over the years. What I love about musicians on a local level is that you meet them once, and the very next time you see them, you hug.

PT: How has playing out affected other parts of your life?
MS: They affect each other. I have two kids - 6 and 16 - and I'm divorced. Even though my ex-husband was very supportive, I've always felt like two people: The mom and the musician. Now I've moved to the suburbs because of the schools, but I just don't have a whole lot in common with a lot of the mothers out there. They're buying new stoves, and I have a great new bass line.

PT: What's the challenge of the week?
MS: To finish that darn CD. I book myself, so there's always another gig to get. It's balancing the teaching schedule with music. In the fall I teach seven English classes on three campuses in three different counties. I don't breathe in the fall. In the spring I teach five, so I have more time to play, and in the summer I have plenty of time off.

PT: Where did your musicality come from?
MS: My father. My mother's mother, too. I used to hear my father sing Dean Martin through the house. At parties, he would impersonate everyone. I do believe it's passed on. I see my son doing exactly what I did at his age. If he's in the second verse and learning it, then I have to start the song over so he can sing it all the way through without making a mistake.

PT: What did you sing at his age?
MS: I used to sing “You Light Up My Life” in the closet in my grandmother's dining room because I was too afraid to sing it in front of everyone. During lunch in middle school, I remember writing the words of all the songs I knew in a notebook, and I would charge a quarter a song.

PT: How has the Internet affected your career?
MS: I used to despise MySpace. I had some issues with identity theft, not financially but I had someone pretending they were me on an adult Web site. I've had guys coming up to me at gigs saying: “It's me. Come on, you don't remember?” They're using my entire identity. I had a 70-year-old stalker put away. I got a restraining order. I deal with one idiot at a time, so I was very hesitant about the Internet.

PT: Has it also helped you?
MS: Some of the time, MySpace is the only way I listen to my friends' music. I find it's the only way a lot of people have heard my stuff. I'm on a lot of Internet radio stations worldwide.

PT: Do your songs have a life of their own?
MS: They do. There's a song called “Happily,” which is the goofiest song I've ever written, but I knew it would live well when it was done and it turned out great. It will add color and light to the disc, which is not something I usually look for. I like the darker lyrics. I like the darker sound, the shoe gazer stuff. That's kind of a rut I tend to get in. - The Buffalo News

"Maria Sebastian and her band opened the show and made it clear that the only thing separating them from the headliners was a contract rider and a tub of beer backstage.

Sebastian, like Harmer, is an elegant, emotive singer, and her songwriting is strong as well. The band smoked, kicking Sebastian's gorgeous "In Our Bed" square in the pants halfway through the arrangement, and subtly extending the melodic and harmonic possibilities during other pieces of the all-too-brief set. Sebastian plays around town regularly, and you should see her."

Jeff Miers, Buffalo News Music Critic 7/7/05 Reviewing Thursday at the Square show with Maria Sebastian Band, The Hothouse Flowers and Sarah Harmer.

- Buffalo News

05/08/09 Hudson Valley's The Daily Freeman Review of Yellow Envelope: "With her lovely voice and clever way with words, Sebastian has a great record on her hands here."

By David Malachowski, Reviewer

ARTIST: Maria Sebastian ALBUM: "Yellow Envelope" A winner of numerous Buffalo Music Awards from Clarence Center, New York, Maria Sebastian checks in with "Yellow Envelope." This journey starts out with the nostalgic sounds of a scratchy old vinyl record singing, "if you were a drug/if you were a pill/if you were a dare against my character and will/I would take you now" in a pop-rock style. She doesn't limit herself to one style, though. In the intimate, crystal-clear "Snow," Sebastian sings, "I shoulda learned to drive in the snow." "Goin' Away" is a bit aimless and wobbly (even though it has a killer guitar solo in the outro). But happily, she gets back on track with the country-tinged "Happily." A fast-paced "Everything Reeks of You" sports some wicked "My Sharona"-style octaves. Sebastian shows off her range and power in "Wings" and "Falling Through the Cracks." "In Our Bed" is tricky, yet effective as she sings almost alone for more than two minutes, and just when you think it's safe to put your feet up, the full band comes roaring in. With her lovely voice and clever way with words, Sebastian has a great record on her hands here. Eclectic and diverse, it's not only retro in sound, but in the way she jumps around from genre to genre without a care ... as it should be. Visit David Malachowski is a guitarist, producer and freelance journalist living in Woodstock. - Hudson Valley's The Daily Freeman


1999 - The Other Side of the Room (First solo record)
2001 - In From the Cold (with band IFTC - members included Gary Mallaber [Drummer: Steve Miller Band, Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison] and Jack Sherman [Guitarist: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bob Dylan, George Clinton]).
2003 - Maybe It's Just Me (Second solo work - Modern Pop/Rock)
2006 - Songs I Wrote in the Car (Mostly acoustic, song demo - Americana / Folk-Pop)
2009 - Yellow Envelope (14-song, fully produced, AAA - Alternative/Folk)



BIO: Maria began performing live while in high school on Buffalo's West Side. At 17, she began performing at the former Club Utica -- a renowned country club in its prime. When she wouldn't sleep with the band leader, she was told that "country music probably isn't for her," but she already knew that. She later joined various rock cover bands to polish her presence and develop her guitar skills. She performed solo in her hometown while writing and recording with 1996-born original band (later named In From the Cold) based in Buffalo and Los Angeles. The group featured world-class drummer Gary Mallaber (Steve Miller Band, Van Morrison) and ex-Red Hot Chili Pepper guitarist Jack Sherman. Though logistical issues stalled the band's live schedule, their unique Pop/Rock songs are currently being pitched for television and film (clients to date include CBS, Discovery Channel, and Hoggard Films). More on their unique sound at their myspace page.

Independently, Maria has recorded four CDs since In From the Cold. Her newest disc, Yellow Envelope, is her most eclectic work to date. It recently won the Buffalo Spree Magazine Best Local Album award for 2009, and the Hudson Valley's Freeman Online says she "has a great record on here hands here." Maria began writing some of the songs on the disc while still in high school. She put them off while fronting rock bands for the next 18 years because they didn't fit the format of a rock artist. She added songs from the rock era, and new songs written under the influence of today's best Americana artists, and the result is a mixed genre CD with modern rock, contemporary folk, Americana, and uncategorizable songs including "Wings" -- a Faulkneresque tale about life in a dying town. Maria has included on her web site a link to "song gossip" where listeners can read interesting clips about the stories and inspirations behind the songs on that disc, including the title track, which came from a song her father wrote on an envelope and sent to her mother while he was in prison for some of the 1970s. He was the subject of a brutal robbery in 1995 that left him in a challenging circumstance before he died in 2003, and "Yellow Envelope" is a story of how her mother waited for him through various stages of his complicated life. The rest of the disc explores stories about ghosts (Snow), women who would consider jail time a break (Happily), and themes about love, which have always crept into her work.

In 2004, Maria earned her M.A. in English / Media Studies from the University at Buffalo. She is a mother of two, and she teaches English at various WNY colleges. She performs live regularly either solo, as a duo, or with her weekend band, The Visitors, and has shared shows with: The Byrds' Roger McGuinn, Los Lonely Boys, The Gin Blossoms, Malcolm Holcombe, Collective Soul, Sarah Harmer, Jackyl, The Tea Party, Hothouse Flowers, Jess Klein, Vance Gilbert, Honeymoon Suite, Eddie Money, Missy Higgins, Eric Hutchinson, Pal Shazar, Pilate, C.O. Jones, Scott Carpenter and the Real McCoys, Head East, Harum Scarum and dozens of WNY bands.

Visit or for more.

Maria's latest CD, Yellow Envelope, is a Buffalo Spree Magazine 2009 Best of WNY Award Winner - 5/09.

Buffalo Music Awards
1993 - Accent - Top New Rock Band
1994 - Accent - Top Rock Band
1995 - Maria - Top Rock Female Vocalist
1996 - Maria - Top Rock Female Vocalist
1996 - Sudden Urge - Top Rock Band
1997 - Sudden Urge - Top Rock Band
2003 - Maria - Top Solo Artist
2004 - Top Rock Female Vocalist
2008 - Top Original Solo/Acoustic Artist

Western New York, People's Choice Award (Temporary Awards Organizers):
2004 - Top Solo Artist