sara grace
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sara grace

Montpelier, Vermont, United States

Montpelier, Vermont, United States
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"Grace Notes"

Mention the name “Grace” to the average Vermont music fan and it’s likely only one local singer springs to mind. While that’s understandable, it is also unfortunate. Because, in the words of Yoda, “There is another.” Though not as immediately recognizable as Ms. Potter, Montpelier’s Sara Grace is equally dynamic, boasting pipes that are second to none — including those of “our little Gracie.” Soulful, emotive and blessed with a sly, biting wit, Sara Grace is among central Vermont’s best-kept secrets. This Saturday, Montpelier’s Black Door Bar & Bistro welcomes the rootsy songwriter’s return to the stage with her all-star backing band, The Suits, which includes local luminaries Andy Suits (drums), Giovanni Rovetto (bass), Asa Brosius (dobro), Tom Morse (trumpet) and special guest, ace trombonist
- Seven Days


"capitol sounds"

As for this weekend, tonight up at The Black Door on Main Street, local soul-folk band
Sara Grace and the Suits takes the third-floor stage. The band has developed a loyal following as people recognize Sara's great songwriting and percussive guitar style, Andy
Suits' rock-solid rhythms and the band's tasty cover renditions of favorites such as "Dear Prudence." Sara has soul to burn, and in this project she really shines. Catch it starting at 9:30.
-Ed Dufrense Times Argus
- the times argus


"Artist of the Month"

LINK: http://highergroundmusic.com/artistofthemonth/?c=228

Montpelier’s Sara Grace and the Suits have rapidly become one of Central Vermont’s favorite acts. Playing a mix of Sara’s originals and some tasty covers, the band's soul-folk sound has gained the attention of listeners and dancers alike.



Don't miss Sara Grace and the Suits in the HG Showcase Lounge with Enter the Haggis on Thursday, November 19.



- Higher Ground


"she's got the beat"

Vermont Woman Profile: She’s Got the Beat

Sara Grace Rocks the Capital
April , 2009

A relative newcomer to Vermont, Sara Grace has already made her mark in several bands as a drummer, guitarist, singer, songwriter, and as an onstage performer in Anais Mitchell’s Hadestown. With her rich, textured vocals and compelling rhythm guitar style, she leads a team of polished musicians who create a unique sound that is intimate, upbeat and supremely danceable. The eponymous Sara Grace and the Suits is currently one of central Vermont’s favorite bands.

The first time I heard Grace as drummer and back up vocalist for Burlington’s Myra Flynn (see Vermont Woman, February 2009) I marveled at how this multitalented young woman could be so accomplished.

It all began 28 years ago, she explains, when she was born into a family of talented musicians in a small Pennsylvania college town. Grace’s parents and brother play a dozen different instruments, including French horn, and both her mother and father played professionally in local bands. Before she reached school age, her folks had taken her to hear the Grateful Dead, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Little Feat, and, her personal heroine, Bonnie Raitt. By the time she was seven, Sara was singing and playing piano and guitar. She started formal drum lessons at nine and played on her first recording at 11.

The household was filled with musicians jamming, and she recalls feeling blessed as a youngster to have so many adults as mentors “welcoming me into - this is what it’s like if you do this - so I got a good, real taste.” Her family and their friends encouraged her to pursue her own talents and creativity; Grace, her mother and grandmother are visual artists as well.

Grace recalls, “that whole thing of your kid learning how to play an instrument and not wanting them to play because it’s just downright annoying – I never had that – it was never like that. It was like ‘Yeah, keep doing it.’ Probably they’d rather hear the drums than hear me whining about something else! Maybe that was it!” she adds with a gutsy laugh.

By her early twenties, Grace had spent a brief time studying graphic design in art school, lived and played music in New Orleans, and moved to Brooklyn where she ended up in a 40- hour-a-week work grind that left little time and energy for her music. In the fall of 2005, she stopped in Montpelier to visit a friend who was one of the founders of the newly opened Langdon Street Café. Grace describes her introduction to the local music scene this way: “I was totally psyched about the culture that was in this little mountain place that no one knows about but that was totally thriving on its own.” She returned to New York to pull up stakes and moved to Montpelier on Halloween.

Langdon Street gave her a monthly gig playing guitar and singing. Soon she was hosting the café’s weekly open-mike night, a perfect way to meet other musicians. Grace says she found the local scene very supportive of all kinds of art, “whatever it is; it could be making [stuff] out of cardboard and people love it” [for example Montpelier’s Kellogg Hubbard Library Children’s Programming Coordinator Ben T. Matchstick (a Bread and Puppet Theater alum), and his “Cardboard Teck Instantute” for kids], “or puppets, poetry, art shows. Whatever it is that you do, people are psyched to get out and support it.” In her experience it was a marked difference from the competitive culture of New York or New Orleans where, she noted, “there’s a culture that’s already there and it’s been there for so long, you have to be there for a long time, too. In Vermont it’s not that cliquey.”

After someone offered her a drum kit, she began to play drums again after a four-year hiatus. Before long she was the drummer and back-up vocalist for Myra Flynn and Spark. Flynn names Grace as one of her favorite musicians and vocalists. Of her soulful nature, Flynn says, “Now there’s a black woman in a white woman’s body!”

Grace describes her current band as a “musician’s band”, and confesses they don’t rehearse much. At times she struggles with trusting this open style; she wants to get things tight and polished. “Granted, we do know the songs, but they’re different every time, and the cool thing is playing with really polished musicians. We can say I’ve got a new song for tonight and you say, Asa, it’s in the key of blah blah, and Andy, it’s got this sort of chunga chunga chunga beat. I’ll cue you and you’ll figure it out. And then we play it and it’s great because they're so good.”

As Grace describes what she likes about her drummer, Andy Suits, she reveals her personal values and style. She finds his playing funky and tasteful, and says “He’s a really good drummer because he really, really listens.”

She studied with a drum teacher who taught her to fill in the space and “make something else sound better.” As a result, “I struggled to play with other drummers in my band when I was a teenager playing guitar and singing my songs because they always wanted to just tear shit up. That’s the thing about Andy and my drum teacher: They would really listen and make the song be like a song – not like a train wreck. That’s rare. It’s more of a percussionist way of drumming, really listening and trying to accent things that are already there.” (Incidentally, Grace has contributed drums and backup vocals for another local group, Miriam Bernardo’s band Amapola.)

Grace writes intensely personal songs that can take her months to compose. She intersperses artwork with songwriting, creates all the band’s posters, and takes time to paint. She describes herself as a patient person and aspires to being able to support herself as a musician without having to work a day job. “I feel like I’m definitely well on my way. I don’t doubt that it’s going to happen.”

You’ll share this confidence when you hear Sara Grace and the Suits. The band is currently recording an original album due for a spring release. Meanwhile, you can catch them at the Black Door – April 3. Other gigs include April 17, 9 pm, Red Square, Burlington and May 22, 9pm, Monkey House, Winooski. Listen to several sample songs at myspace.com/saragracethesuits

K.C.Whiteley lives in Montpelier.


- Vermont Woman Magazine


"Review"

Review: Sara Grace and the Suits
Langdon Street Café
9.12.08

It was a balmy, drizzly Friday night in the Capital City, and inside the Langdon Street Café the air was already steamy for the standing room only crowd of close to 100 waiting for Sara Grace and the Suits to kick off their first set. Grace began by wrapping her low, raspy voice around “Behind Shadows,” one of her originals. The house begins to sway and the dance is on. With a combination of originals and covers that build momentum, there are no songs this band plays that aren’t danceable.

Grace’s husky, expressive voice and percussion-style rhythm guitar ride on the engine powered by Andy Suits on the drums. Asa Brosius on electric slide dobro and Tom Morse on trumpet and flugelhorn keep these two grounded, smoothing out the ride with their tasteful, less is more, accompaniment. This is a band who listen to and support each other; no prima donnas here.

The music is upbeat, often funky, and always soulful. Looking around, it’s easy to see the effect on the crowd. Ninety minutes into her first set, Grace asks the crowd if they’ll stay around if she takes a break: “Will you come back?” A resounding “YES! Promise? YES! Sweet, now I feel safer.” Her appreciation is genuine and when she thanks everyone for coming, you can tell she means it.

One measure of how good this band is can be found by looking around the room and counting the number of local musicians who show up to hear them. Second set, jazz artist Andy Moroz sat in on trombone sparking some exciting horn riffs with Morse. On one, “Jump Down,”a bluesy traditional inspired by Nina Simone, the two horns spiraled around each other like hawks ascending, then swooped down, criss-crossing in flight, finally joining paths, an exhilarating ride.

Some of the songs are so popular with this home town crowd, many people know the words and the crowd up front sing with her - to Prince’s “All 7 and We’ll Watch Them Fall” and “Dear Prudence” which has got to be the funkiest, get up and dance version of this song you’ll ever hear.

Sound too good to be true? They almost are. This band is worth traveling to see. Even if you think you have it all in Chittenden County, come on down to the smallest U.S. capital and check out Sara Grace and the Suits.



K.C. Whiteley lives in Montpelier

- Vermont Woman Magazine


Discography

Sara Grace -"REQUITED"

Photos

Bio

In a few short years in the Central Vermont market, Sara Grace has established herself as a consistent draw at venues across the area. With a unique blend of styles that is best described as “soul-folk”, she has been wowing crowds while developing a loyal following in a variety of venues. Her percussive guitar style and funky arrangements, along with a charismatic stage presence and ultra-soulful vocal delivery make Sara Grace a force to be reckoned with.