Tallahassee’s Sarah Mac Band throws its own kind of holiday party at the Monticello Opera House this Saturday night. They’ll be featuring some of the songs from their latest CD that came out in October.
Sarah Mac Band guitarist Charlie Vanture said that new CD – entitled “Florida” – had kind of a premature birth.
“Well the producer called us in February and said, ‘Hey, I just had some people cancel. If you guys can get up here, I’ll give you a great deal because I’ve got space to fill.’ And we were like, ‘We can’t pass this up,’ but we didn’t have any songs.”
So when Vanture, along with bassist Claire Swindell and lead singer Sarah Mac arrived at Cincinnati Ohio’s Monastery Studios, Mac said the pressure was on to come up with songs to record.
“This is the first time that we have…not created on the fly, but we created the songs and there was no agenda as far as this is where we want this to go. It was like, ‘I want to make a rock album; we want to make sure we incorporate blues, definitely want to have hand-claps as percussion and here we go!’ Mac said. “So there was a little bit more freedom to go, ‘What if we try this and blah, blah, blah?’”
Once again, one of the mid-West’s top session drummers Josh Seurkamp laid down the beat as the songs took shape and Vanture says another highly talented person helped give the arrangements focus and polish.
“Understand, too our producer Rich Hordinski is a phenomenal guitar player and you’ll come in with some stuff and he says, ‘Why don’t we do this? Why don’t you just make this little change?’ and I’m like; ‘Wow, this is really cool!’”
For Sarah Mac, the core concept of the record was simply to push the musical and emotional boundaries a bit further than they’d ever gone before.
“All my life I’ve been a blues singer just trying to claw her way out of this body and so it’s really fun to get to do the bluesy stuff and to have our own songs that are bluesy things,” she smiled. “We do a lot of blues covers, and it’s really great to get accolades for singing someone else’s songs, but when we have our own songs that have that same caliber of authentic, gutsy, bluesy stuff, that feels to me far more special.”
The 11-track “Florida” collection has been out for nearly three months, but many people in the area haven’t heard it. So Vanture said several of those tunes will find their way onto the set list of this weekend’s Sarah Mac Holiday performance.
“This Saturday at the Monticello Opera House, which is just an awesome place. So we’ll do some Christmas music, but we’ll also be doing some of our new stuff,” Vanture explained. “We’ve got our drummer Joe Murphy and our violinist Libby O’Neil playing with us.”
A pre-concert dinner is also available for premium ticket holders. And Sarah Mac noted the menu has become more diversified of late.
“It’s only last year that we actually ate their dinner because we’re vegetarians and they always have some kind of fancy meat. But last year they found out that I was a vegetarian and so they not only made us meals, but sent me home with – I don’t know if you know this – with two vegetarian lasagnas for Christmas and it was so good!”
And the sounds will be as tasty as the food this Saturday night as the Sarah Mac Band performs its holiday concert on the stage of the Monticello Opera House.