Sarah Renfro
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Sarah Renfro

New York City, New York, United States | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
Band Folk Singer/Songwriter

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"Run Away From Me"

*Gezellig best characterized Sarah Renfro's voice when they said it "sounds like an angel dripping with sin." From her abandoned East Texas roots all the way to her new home of Brooklyn, it's been a shift filled with honest, emotional music. Sarah, in her latest work approaches her voice and Rhodes piano from a new direction. Gone (but not forgotten) are the angry protests and in are the more subtle explorations of self-awareness, whether it be the Arvo Pärt-like vocalizations in "City in your Nightmare" or her "Little White House" in the backyard. Sarah's new music trades extra decibels for lyrics that strike harder. Much harder.

Sarah's been in on a number of collaborations with numerous accolades. Discover them through her site. For now, check out the Gutterth Compilation which features a number of Dallas/Fort Worth musicians and Sarah's track Judgement By Default. - www.michalgarcia.com


"Sarah Renfro's last 80 sheets Denton show"

Monday night 80 Sheets played their last Denton show. This is a sad thing for Dentonites and the DFW crowd that have been diggin' Sarah Renfro and her cohorts in their eclectic mix of jazz-pop rockin’ rap.

I first heard of 80 Sheets a year or so ago on MySpace and tried in vain for more than half a year to see them live. I was entranced by Sarah's near perfect voice and ability to span genres. After missing one of their shows at my favorite venue here in Denton ~ Dan's Silverleaf, I lamented not having the chance to hear them live, yet again, and pick up their cd had the occasion to drop by Dan's for a meeting (yes, I love meetings in bars) and as I walked through the bar thinking about the show I missed the night before I looked down at the side bar to find a lone cd in it's sleeve. It was of course, 80 Sheets. It was mine finally!

Since then I have been in love with every track. Weeks later I finally had an opportunity to see them live at the Greenhouse her in Denton and I loved it! Seeing them twice more at RGRS and at the Wine Squared Festival, I really couldn't get enough! But as fate would have it, my last time to them would be at Hailey's. And yes, it was great. Although I miss Bob Lanzetti's contribution to the band they still performed orgasmicly (sic).

Sarah took the stage first with the surprise guest band Snarky Puppy, an instrumental indie jazz band that sounded fantastic especially with her vocals adding that next dimension.

When 80 Sheets took the stage I was exited and sad knowing that this might be the last time I see 80 Sheets live. The show itself though was wonderful. Although having seen them several times now I think I liked the intimacy of the Greenhouse the best. That being said though everyone was having a great time and it was easy to see that most of the people there (around 80 on a Monday night) were fans.

The evening ended with a raffle of the crazy sunglasses & the pink laced bikini underwear used in performing their hidden track "Pink Laced Bikini Boyfriend" and a crotch banana (oh my) then an a cappella song I didn't recognize but was wonderful to hear.

So Yea, I got what I came for; a super show by 80 Sheets, some cool pics and a hug from Sarah Renfro. Another Great night in little d.

- Pegasus News - Jay B. Stephens


"Sarah Renfro and Julie Bonk"

A Norah Jones platinum record has a place of honor on Julie Bonk's living room wall. There's room for a Sarah Renfro album next to it.

Bonk, a Lewisville piano teacher, mentored Jones years before she sold millions of copies of her two albums. Renfro is her latest, and maybe greatest, protégé. "I've played with a lot of famous singers, and she's got to be the best one," Bonk says.

Renfro, 24, is uncomfortable with the praise. She only started singing seriously in college. "It was always that alone-in-your-room performance. It kind of slipped out into real life."

Renfro, a quiet woman with intense hazel eyes, grew up in Longview and started playing the piano at 4. By high school, she added clarinet and tenor sax.

She considered herself a musician when she came to the University of North Texas' jazz studies program in 2002. Renfro showed up at Bonk's house for piano lessons in 2004. But Bonk, once she heard Renfro sing, quickly had other ideas.

She pushed Renfro to improvise and forget about the audience. Bonk urged her to visualize while she sang: picturing breaking up with her boyfriend while singing about heartbreak.

Renfro sings with Bonk's band, and she appeared on Bonk's CD, Different Shades of Blue. But area residents won't be able to catch her for much longer. Next week, Renfro heads to New York City, as Jones did.

Renfro insists she's not trying to be the next Norah. "I just really want to meet people who inspire me to keep writing ... and experience as much of the creativity there as possible." Bonk has another opinion: "I think she's going to become very famous."
- Quick DFW - Lesley Téllez


"80 Sheets rocks audience at the Greenhouse"

Rock band 80 Sheets, lead by singer Sarah Renfro, Longview senior, performed on Halloween for a comfortable crowd at the Greenhouse on North Locust Street.

80 Sheets combines rock, jazz, hip-hop, funk and soul to create a musical experience unlike most other bands from NT.

If you can imagine Björk, Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, The Doors and Medeski Martin and Wood all performing on the same stage in the form of a five piece band, you will have a good idea as to the performance energy and writing style of 80 Sheets.

80 Sheets is Renfro; Nick Groesch, Decatur, Ill., junior, keys; Mike League, Clifton, Va., junior, bass; Bob Lanzetti, Brick, N.J., alumnus, guitar; and Ross Pederson, Fargo, N.D., junior, drums.

"She comes in with the meat of it," League said. "And we just make adjustments, but for the most part it's her stuff."

The musicians are mostly NT jazz students who are currently contributing to the high standard of music and art forms that help define Denton culture.

"I was so burned out only singing jazz," Renfro said. "It didn't have any spirit behind it because I hadn't had enough life experiences, or learned enough about myself to be able to express myself [through] jazz."

Halloween night's performance was loud when it needed to be and delicate when appropriate. I could tell the level of commitment each band member had with the music by their body expression and their musical contributions.

"The [music] she brings in is easy to latch on to," League said.

The band started out in the Fall of 2003 with Lanzetti's encouragement for Sarah Renfro to bring together the musicians she wanted to play with, Renfro said.

She has been realizing her goals as an artist and a person through her time spent making music with 80 Sheets. After a step back from the life she was leading, Renfro said she started producing music to combine with the text she had been writing. "I had to write my own stuff to define who I am."

She also pointed out that the band was never intended to be a "jam band." Though their style has moments of free flowing interpretation and interlocking personality, coupled with the adventurous song structures and dynamic impression on both the listeners and performers, 80 Sheets is more than a jam band.

After I got over the strength of Renfro as a musician, the material that 80 Sheets performed was next to grab my attention. Then, I realized that my head started to move because my musical tastes were being satisfied by the heavy groove of Pederson and League. And the full complement of textures coming from Lanzeti and Groesch tied the whole group together for a sound that was moving, to say the least.

80 Sheets does not venture far from Denton. The band plays local venues and festivals with the hopes that, if they could catch a break from their busy lives, they might be able to reach out to comfortable performing opportunities other than Denton, League and Renfro said.

"I want to play where I'm comfortable and I'm comfortable [in Denton]," Renfro said.

My sentiments certainly lean toward wanting 80 Sheets to expose its music to a larger audience, so more people can enjoy the purity of the group's music. Regardless, Sarah Renfro is doing the right thing with the right people.

The Halloween show was an experience that left me rocked, touched and proud to be a NT music student and an active member of the Denton arts community. Essentially, bands like 80 Sheets give NT and Denton the reputation it has.

The future of the band is maybe New York, maybe still together, Renfro said.

80 Sheets produced an album titled The Daily Drone. You can contact the band at www.myspace.com/80Sheets. - NT Daily - Kevin Zahner


"Sarah Renfro at Dan’s Silverleaf"

Walking into the place I heard her voice. Not only was I surprised to hear such a mature beautiful voice coming from someone as young as Sarah, but the words to her songs really moved me inside. Afterward I asked her for the name of one of the songs. It was called One Wheel, if I remember correctly. It was beautiful. She played a few instruments, but there were times where she played her voice. The range went from one extreme to another. Sometimes it was, what I guess people mean by “bedroom voice” at other times it was like a yodel. You can listen to a few songs on the link below..

Monday I got back to Denton from Houston. I was exhausted after class. Sarah Renfro was going to perform at Dan’s Silverleaf in Denton, TX, though so I figured I had to go take some photos and check her out. She lives in New York, so I knew I probably wouldn't see her anytime soon. She had performed in Austin a couple of days before. - Elizabeth Padilla


"My Denton Music interview: Sarah Renfro"

The prodigal daughter has returned! OK, maybe not returned completely, but the weeklong visit from Denton alum Sarah Renfro certainly stirred up some fond memories for those in the local music scene, as well as for the seductive songstress herself. Following her much anticipated show at Dan's Silverleaf, we got a chance to speak to Sarah and talk a little bit about her Denton roots, her latest album, and her future plans. Have a look!

My Denton Music: You are a grad of the University of North Texas Music Program, how did that influence and shape who you are as a musician today?

Renfro: Well I started out with a lot of Motown and from their went to kind of fifties sock hop music and playing a lot of instruments in band. Then I came to Denton and studied in Jazz. From there I just really dabbled in everything Denton had to offer, and I guess after that I became more folky.

My Denton Music: What was it that sparked your move to NYC?

Renfro: Well, so many of my friends had already moved to New York and a lot of people that I had played with. It just seemed like the right thing to do, but I was kind of like a pick your poison situation because I really didn't like it at first. But it's grown on me since then, I still don't like it when it's cold though. But I just knew that it was an important place to be because it would change me as a person more than anything. I really wasn't concerned what I was going to do musically, I figured that would just come. But, yeah, I pretty much just had my ass handed to me, having to work like two or three jobs just trying to pay rent.

My Denton Music: Has the move paid off for you?

Renfro: Yeah, definitely. I have been working on an album for like a year now and I thought I could crank it out pretty quick because I had a pretty good idea of what it was and what it was going to be but it has just changed so much. And that has really just showed me how much I am changing as a musician. I have been playing with a lot of really great people, not just amazing musicians, but amazing people and it was really great finding a group of people in New York who have a Texas vibe to them.

My Denton Music: Now you just recorded a live album called Eaten Alive in Brooklyn (AVAILABLE ON MySpace) Is this your prelude to your debut studio album, and do you have a time frame when that might be released?

Renfro: Well, I would like it to be done by the end of summer...but that's what I said last summer so we will see how that goes. Like I said things keep changing, I keep adding stuff and taking stuff out. I really wanted to have this album done by now so when I played that show that was recorded, the engineer asked me if I wanted to record this show and I said for sure! And I had really been itching to get something out and it ended up sounding really great.
Sarah Renfro

Michal Garcia

Sarah Renfro

My Denton Music: What comes to your mind now when you think of Denton?

Renfro: It is a slower pace, and I love it. People are a lot nicer and you know I have been noticing a lot of hipsters around lately! I think its kind of cute. It's kind of funny when hipsters pop up but I think if you compare the Denton hipsters to the New York hipsters, I think Denton hipsters are way cuter! They try so hard!

My Denton Music: Are you still in touch with a lot of musicians from around the area?

Renfro: Yeah, definitely. I always tell people that Denton is my musical home. I just love how many great musicians there are here and they are always ready to play, and not like "Hey, I'm going to have to charge you fifty bucks for that rehearsal." Like everyone is just down to play and like family and it's beautiful. That's what music should be.

My Denton Music: Do you think eventually you will make your way back down to Texas, or have you found a new permanent home in New York?

Renfro: I don't see New York as a permanent home at all. When I got up there and really didn't fit right away I thought, "Oh my God, if I come back to Texas now I have failed!" And you know some people go up to New York and they find a niche that only exists in New York and I find that I do really well in Texas. It is so competitive in New York, which is why I need to stay there and get my ass handed to me, but there is something so comforting about coming to Denton and playing for a bunch of people who just get it, you know? And if I did move back to Texas, which I will probably do, I keep saying within the next five years, I would move to Austin probably, and frequent Denton often.

My Denton Music: Which do you prefer, live shows or recording songs?

Renfro: Well...I'm going to have to play it safe and say both. I feel like they are both evolving in such a really cool way. I feel like the music I was making when I lived here was a lot more aggressive. Now I am just writing stuff that is a lot more fun and describes different parts of my personality. It was really fun to come back to Denton and play a show at Dan's, and play a FUN show at Dan's. It really made me feel good to play really happy songs and it is really bringing me out as a performer to play songs that represent different facets of my personality and also to play solo! Songs in the studio have a totally different vibe than they do onstage. Onstage it is more like just having a good time. You connect with the audience and have fun, but in the studio is where the song actually lives.

My Denton Music: OK, a few fun ones. Tea or Coffee?

Renfro: HAHA...tea. But I did relapse on coffee today. I hadn't had coffee since February! And I took the plunge at Jupiter House. My friend Nick who I used to play with in my band 80 Sheets brews coffee and I had some!

My Denton Music: Winter or Summer?

Renfro: Summer. Definitely. I miss the sun!

My Denton Music: Great, well, I would really like to give you an opportunity now to talk a little bit about the new album. Any word on a title yet?

Renfro: Yeah, it is going to be called The Mabel Years after the title track, "Mabel." And I actually just found a dress at a store called Second Street that is totally going to be the album cover dress. That is part of the reason why I wanted to come here. To get a good, affordable album cover dress and a new guitar, and I did them both! Hopefully I will be touring for the album in the fall. - Pegasus News


Discography

Sarah Renfro - Eaten aLive in Brooklyn (2009)
Gutterth Productions - Compilation One (2008)
Étranger - UNT Jazz Chamber Vol 3 (2007)
80 sheets - The Daily Drone (2005)
Julie Bonk - Different Shades Of Blue (2004)

Photos

Bio

Sarah Renfro, multi-instrumentalist/singer-songwriter has been profiled in Quick Magazine, NBC DFW, TexasGigs.com, Pegasus News and MyDentonMusic.com and was recently featured on "The Jump", a 30 minute program on Manhattan Neighborhood Network dedicated to highlight up and coming musical talent in NYC.

She has shared the stage and recorded with musicians such as Bernard Wright, Tony Scherr, Rob Jost, Ursa Minor, Robert DiPietro, Robert “Sput” Searight, Julie Bonk, Lynn Seaton, Stefan Karlsson, Dave Fiuczynski, Jovino Santos Neto, Paul Slavens, Pamela Rodriguez, and Snarky Puppy.

Sarah discovered a passion for music at a young age by playing piano and a variety of woodwinds. At the University of North Texas, she studied a wide range of vocal styles including jazz, classical, folk, rock, pop, Brazilian and Peruvian. Her artistic influences include Chan Marshall, Ani DiFranco, Amanda Palmer, Janeane Garofalo, Bob Dylan, E.E. Cummings and David Lynch.

She also garnered a following with Dallas jazz bands and her own project, 80 sheets. In both worlds, she became a familiar face on stage at Denton rock venues as well as the Dallas Museum of Art and many DFW jazz venues and festivals including the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam, NL. Since moving to Brooklyn in 2006, her songwriting has matured and taken a more acoustic flavor. In addition to circuiting underground stand-up comedy venues, she has played rooms such as Caffé Vivaldi, Rockwood Music Hall, Banjo Jim's, The Knitting Factory, The Delancey, Santos Party House, Southpaw and BAMcafé Live.