Sarah Mac Band
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Sarah Mac Band

Tallahassee, Florida, United States | SELF

Tallahassee, Florida, United States | SELF
Band Americana Blues




"Sarah Mac Band"

The Tallahassee trio is named for singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Sarah Mac, whose velvety soulful cry is laid down against blues-and-jazz drenched folk rock that moves at a steady rolling pace. - Creative Loafing

"Pixel Records"

“This trio serves up an impossible to categorize, but easy to listen blend of styles that is refreshing and honest. The combination of exceptional vocal lines, intricate guitar work and funk-influenced bass lines converge into music that has to be heard to be believed.”
Pixel Records -

"Music Review: Sarah Mac Band, Open Fire"

The Sarah Mac Band describes itself as "bluesy, jazzy rock with a healthy dose of soul," but also says this on its website: "We would request that you listen to us and then make your own choice for what type of music we play." So their genre is actually up to you.

Sarah Mac (lead vocals, guitar, and piano) is the perfect mix between the softness of Sarah McLachlan and and the passion and jazz of Sara Bareilles. There must be some magic that gives girls named Sarah those blindingly sensuous voices.

Well, Sarah Mac is one that we can call our very own. She and her band mates, Charlie Vanture (guitar and backing vocals), Claire Swindell (bass guitar and backing vocals), and Keli Swearingen (Pearl Drums) formed their group here in Tallahassee in the spring of 2005. The band launched their latest album, Open Fire, with a release party on January 11 at The Warehouse on Gaines Street.

Open Fire is the perfect CD to pop in the car on a sunny day, dance to in your kitchen, or groove to on the treadmill. Sarah's smooth vocals and the band's easy instrumentals totally complement a personal favorite "Summertime", composed by George Gershwin.

The title song, "Open Fire" is another smooth, but faster-moving composition that captures the essence of passion and melody. Its lyrics are those that anyone who has been brokenhearted can appreciate.

Open Fire is available locally at Vinyl Fever and Textures Handmade Market, or online at and iTunes. You can also see the band live at Springtime Tallahassee on March 29. For more information, check out their MySpace page or their web site at

Bonnie Bower - Capital Culture Magazine

"Artist of the Day: Sarah Mac Band"

Tallahassee trio the Sarah Mac Band-- Sarah Mac on vocals, guitar, and more; Charlie Vanture on lead guitar and Claire Swindell on bass-- are becoming familiar faces in Tampa Bay, thanks to regular performances at venues like The Hideaway Cafe in St. Petersburg and Skipper's Smokehouse in Tampa.

They're a welcome sight, as their laid-back, feel-good jam-pop-- think Grace Potter and the Nocturnals or Melissa Etheridge on vacation-- has earned them spots opening for the likes of Shawn Colvin, Robert Randolph, and the Lee Boys, among others.

Tireless performers and prolific bloggers, the band has released three albums, but lately, they've tried a very innovative tactic in getting their music to the masses. In what they're calling the "Single Revolution," they're releasing new singles one at a time, asking fans to pay $10 a limited pressing. The money goes toward funding the next single.

"Although a lot of people thought we were crazy for embarking on this project to charge $10 for one song, we've been pleasantly surprised that most people are clamoring for new music and are generous enough to support us by paying for it," Swindell said.

Most of the singles sell in about a month, which means they might be sold out of their sixth and most recent one, Dead Revolutionaries, when the band hits St. Petersburg on Friday for a show at the Hideaway Cafe.

"If they have sold out, maybe we'll have the yet-to-be-named No. 7 single released by then," Swindell said. "We'll have to wait and see." - Tampa Bay Times - Soundcheck

"Music Review: Awakening"

Review by Amy Lotsberg Producer of Collected Sounds

The Sarah Mac band is made up of three women and one lucky and/or brave man. They all have a wicked sense of humor if their bios are any indication. Their website has short bios of each band member, it has a little story about each person. Then under that it says “The Real Story” and a different, funnier bio is there. (i.e. “She was raised in the back woods of Montana by a family of derelict Koala bears”). Sounds like a fun group to hang out with.

Sarah McElhaney (lead singer) has a really nice, strong solid voice. It’s good for this genre…which is sort of bar-rock/bluesy pop. Their sound actually reminds me of some local bands I used to hear live years ago. Holiday Ranch in particular. (Man, I used to go see them a LOT…but I digress)

The melody and guitar part on Someone Else’s Sin is reminiscent of an old 90s band called the Katydids. Sort of lo-fi but cool.

Song for the Dixie Chicks intrigued me just by the title. I couldn’t really see what is had to do with the Dixie Chicks, other than it’s a tad more country flavored than most of their other stuff. But then I read the liner notes that say Sarah wrote it hoping they’d hear it, like it and record it. I can totally hear them performing it, but I like Sarah’s version very much. It’s a pretty song. It’s got a nice violin intro.

While the melodies are catchy and fun, the real star is Sarah’s voice. It’s not even all that unique, it’s just good, and sounds fantastic singing these songs. Maybe it’s partly that it’s mixed up front, so it’s easy to hear (and to tell what she’s singing lyrically). But whatever the reason, I like it.

Track Listing
1. What You Need
2. Someone Else’s Sin
3. Awakening
4. In Smoky Bars with Black Berets
5. What a Shame
6. Random A Song
7. Song for the Dixie Chicks
8. Fading Dreams
9. Open Fire
10. Possum
11. Not Done Yet
12. Sweetest Thing
- Collected Sounds

"Music Review: Sarah Mac Band, Awakening"

The Feminist Review

Sarah Mac Band - Awakening

When was the last time you accidentally stumbled upon an album which quite possibly altered your perceptions of heartfelt music for good? Well, Awakening by the Sarah Mac Band just might do it for you.

Hailing from Tallahassee, Florida, the Sarah Mac Band prides themselves in having established their musical collective out of long existing friendships - friendships which are beautifully unique and span generations. Charlie Vanture, Claire Swindell, and Sarah McElhaney released their first debut EP Countdown to Silence in 2006. They later recruited Keli Swearingen (of the late hard rock band, The Audience) to complete their line-up. Together they have created an absolute stormer of an album which displays reoccurring themes of survival and strength.

"Open Fire," which is the ninth track of a generous twelve, is by far the best feminist anthem I have heard this side of 2008. I have no hesitation in crediting it as the strongest track on Awakening, comprising of emotionally charged lyrics such as "where did you learn that/this was any variation of normal" and "I can't speak cos I'm so damn angry/I don't ask much just act like you love me." The track threw the band into the limelight when Paste Magazine featured it on their CD sampler last May. It has since proven to be popular among fans who appreciate the lyrical ensembles of personal experiences and intense observations.

Claire Swindell, the band's multi-talented bassist, explained to me in a recent interview that the song demonstrates our human desire for love. The album as a whole overflows with lyrical creativity that reflects the vast emotions that women experience everyday. Claire explained, "We are pretty convinced that one of the most common human desires is to be known. But for the most part, we all live these guarded lives, afraid to let people know who we are."

The band believes that the concept of 'awakening' was a very appropriate way to frame their first full-length album together, and hopes that their brutal honesty contributes to the reasons why people love them. Awakening should be a definite purchase for those who appreciate truly original and heartfelt music.

Review by Ashley Toner - The Feminist Review

"New Review of Awakening"

Sarah Mac Band
4/5 stars

Through the extensive music rock scene that Tallahassee boasts comes Sarah Mac Band - with a sound that can be equivocated to bluesy, swamp jazz with a folk rock twist.

Formed in 2005, the original trio started playing religious music at their local church.

"Originally, we were a family band, I had known (bassist) Claire (Swindell) for 10 years, and we played at Church," guitarist Charlie Vanture said. "After the service, we would stay and just write music together."

After adding drummer Keli Swearingen, the band became complete. And yet just three years following its birth, the quartet has recorded a full-length CD and has been chosen for Paste Magazine's monthly single compilation.

"'Open Fire' is one of our most popular tracks (on our newest release, Awakening)," vocalist Sarah Mac said. "It was featured on the CD sampler that accompanied the May issue (#42) of Paste Magazine. We've garnered quite a bit of interest recently in our music, which we attribute specifically to the fact that 'Open Fire' was included in that CD sampler."

In "Open Fire," the emotionally-electric lyrics of , "It's not worth the noise / It's not worth the blood / I won't do it anymore," takes the females - and maybe even the males - back to the time of that hurtful relationship that everyone must go through in order to grow as a person. As a whole, through the experiences of each of the members, comes an extremely intuitive and well-rounded album that can only be a result of this maturity that each member encompasses.

Through the sultry vocals of Mac as well as the intricate guitar work by Vanture, Awakening definitely helps to awaken the senses. Yet, staying true to its non-pigeon hole ideals, the album seems to reflect the various stages of life.

"More than keeping to a genre, we try to keep to themes that people can recognize, understand and relate to even if they haven't experienced it themselves," Vanture said. "It may not be true with every song, but it's pretty common for us to check ourselves to make sure that it will resonate with people outside of our little practice room."

Through the title track, "Awakening," the lyrics seem so close to this spirit with "A thousand years of dormancy / I see for the first time a new light / I am not asleep anymore," the song seems to be an anthem, that along with the rest of the CD, relates on such a human interaction level - it just reflects changes through an awareness that everyone faces.

"We decided to use it as the title track because we had a contest to name the CD and 'Awakening' won the contest. Interestingly enough, when we had a contest to name our first album, Countdown to Silence, 'Awakening' was the name that was submitted the most (the song was on that album as well, without drums and production)," Mac said. "When it came up again and again in the second CD naming contest, we thought about it and decided that the whole concept of 'awakening' was a nice, encouraging way to frame our album, especially since it was our first full album as this incarnation of the band. We're becoming who we are together."

Review by Shari Lesser - FSView

"Pro Star Sound Stage Show 5/16"

Paste Magazine has selected "Open Fire", by The Sarah Mac Band to be included in their May, 2008 CD Sampler. This honor from a nationally recognized and respected music publication is very much deserved and is a great indication that the band is poised to have their success grow.
SMB has pretty much adopted Pro Star as their home-away-from-home in the Tampa Bay area, and we could not be happier about that. This show will mark their 4th appearance on our stage, with each stop garnering new fans for their growing following here. This Tallahassee-based gem of a band is as solid and tight as they come. These very talented musicians use a joyous blend of blues, rock, singer-songwriter, jazz, and soul to deliver a sound that connects with fans and critics alike.
Keli Swearingen's right-on drumwork keeps everything in line musically. Claire Swindell's bass-playing supports their sound solidly, and smoothly. The vibrant guitar work of Charlie Vanture complements it all with style and infectious energy. Sarah Mac's exceptional vocals, combined with her trademark animated performing style make her the ideal focal point for all that this group has to offer. Add in strong, smart lyrics, and the result is a musical package that is both satisfying and immensely entertaining.
SMB will be showcasing material from their just-released album, "Awakening". - ProStar Studios

"Sarah Mac Band to play online cd release"

In recent months, major label acts like Suzanne Vega and Ben Folds have played “virtual” concerts in the online, 3-D community of Second Life. Log into Second Life, and you can watch an animated artist playing an instrument and interacting with the crowd, while the real performer streams a real performance to your home computer. Fans around the world have used Second Life to rub elbows with Chamillionaire or the members or Duran Duran. But for over two years, Second Life has been the province of indie and DIY artists – artists like the eclectic and extra-catchy Sarah Mac Band, who are throwing a record release party in-game this Saturday.

The Sarah Mac Band’s new EP, Countdown to Silence, will be released on Pixel Records. To celebrate, the members of the band – who are regular performers at clubs and venues in Second Life – will headline a show at the Muse Isle concert and arts facility. The bill includes Atlanta’s Grace Buford (who performs as Cylindrian Rutabaga) and Second Life legend Frogg Marlowe, and the show starts at 4:00 PM PST, with the Sarah Mac Band taking the stage at 6:00 PM. The band will also be selling the EP in-game. Just click on the digital "storefront" – designed to look like a stool piled with merch – and you can buy and download a DRM-free version.

For more information, visit If you haven’t tried Second Life yet, it’s free to join and easy to install; visit to get started. - Paste Magazine


Static and Signals (2012)
Live Covers Vol. 1 (2011)
A Single Revolution (2010)
Awakening (2008)
Open Fire- EP (2008)
Countdown to Silence- EP (2006)
A Work in Progress- Demo (2006)



The Sarah Mac Band is made up of Sarah Mac, lead vocals, guitar, keyboard and any other needed, Claire Swindell, bass and vocals, and Charlie Vanture, guitar and vocals. Claire, Charlie and Sarah Mac joined together in early 2005 aspiring to create original music that blended their unique styles that each brought to the group. What emerged was the Sarah Mac Band; an engaging combination of blues, jazz, and acoustic rock that has been classified as both Americana and Alternative.

Sarah Mac was named #14 in The Alternate Root Magazine's 'Top 30 Female Voices Right Now' in March of 2013 alongside legends such as Norah Jones, Emmylou Harris, and Alison Krauss.

Sarah Mac’s voice at times has the full power and grit of Janis Joplin, the sweet, soothing breathy tone of Feist or Edie Brickell, and the gut-wrenching raw tones of an old soul or gospel singer. Paired with Charlie’s intricate, sultry guitar work and Claire’s solid, intriguing bass lines, this trio creates a powerful live experience that has earned them a loyal, growing following as well as given them the opportunity to provide support for acts such as the Lee Boys, Shawn Colvin, Robert Randolph, Marc Roberge (O.A.R.), and Shawn Mullins.

The band has released 2 EPs, Countdown to Silence (2006) and Open Fire (2007), and 2 full length albums of original work, Awakening (2008) and A Single Revolution (2010), as well as a full length live album of covers, Live Covers, Volume 1 (2011). Their newest release, Static and Signals (produced by Ric Hordinski – Over the Rhine, David Wilcox, Phil Keaggy) will release in September 2012.

"Eclectic and ultra-catchy" - Paste Magazine

"A true Florida treasure.." - Tampa News Weekly

‘They're a welcome sight, as their laid-back, feel-good jam-pop -- think Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, or Melissa Ethridge on vacation -- has earned them spots opening for the likes of Shawn Colvin, Robert Randolph and the Lee Boys, among others.” - Tampa Bay Times SoundcheckClaire, Charlie and Sarah Mac joined together in early 2005 aspiring to create original music that blended these unique styles that each brought to the group. From this emerged the Sarah Mac Band; an engaging combination of blues, jazz, and acoustic rock that has been classified as both Americana and Alternative. The band simply describes the sound as ‘jazzy, bluesy, rock with a healthy dose of soul’.

Notable Venues Played:

Skipper's Smokehouse- Tampa, FL
The Milltop Tavern- St. Augustine, FL
Jack Rabbit's- Jacksonville, FL
Freebird Live- Jacksonville Beach, FL
Smith's Olde Bar- Atlanta, GA
Eddie's Attic- Atlanta, GA
The Crimson Moon- Dahlonega, GA
Bear Creek Music Festival- N Florida
Bradfordville Blues Club- Tallahassee, FL
The Moon- Tallahassee, FL
MoDaddy's- Asheville, NC
Main St. Fridays- Greenville, SC
Sky City- Augusta, GA
European Street - Jacksonville, FL
The Hideaway Cafe - St. Petersburg, FL
The Plaza 'Live' - Orlando, FL
The Martin Theatre- Panama City, FL
The Dixie Theatre - Apalachicola, FL

Band Members