The Sarah Mac Band is made up of Sarah Mac, lead vocals, guitar, keyboard and any other instrument needed, Claire Swindell, bass and vocals, and Charlie Vanture, guitar and vocals. Each of them now call Tallahassee, Florida their home but happily travel the south sharing their love of music. Charlie is the ‘old guy’ with over 20 years on both Claire and Sarah Mac. His musical style was formed growing up listening to the Beatles and the numerous blues and rock bands that permeated the old underground FM album stations that thrived in the late 60’s and 70’s. Sarah Mac and Claire grew up later where much of their musical styles were influenced by a variety of groups from the 80’s and 90’s. Their influences are peppered with a veritable cornucopia of people ranging from singer songwriters, pop bands and even the occasional ‘anthemic’ rock band.
Claire, 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. 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. The band simply describes the sound as ‘jazzy, bluesy, rock with a healthy dose of soul’.
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 will leave you wanting to hear more.
Over the past 6 years the band has built a growing fan base along with a considerable repertoire of original music, interspersed with fresh version of some cover songs, that span a broad range of musical styles. They have created a sound that has been variously compared to the styles of musicians like Sheryl Crow, Adele, Ingrid Michaelson and Joan Osborne. During this time the band has been playing numerous venues and clubs throughout the South and crafting a live show that brings a raw energy that must be experienced to be fully appreciated.
The band has released 2 EPs, Countdown to Silence – 2006 and Open Fire – 2007, and two full length CDs, Awakening – 2008 and A Single Revolution – 2010, with favorable reviews and ever increasing sales. Their newest CD, A Single Revolution, was the culmination of an 18 month experiment of releasing a series of limited edition singles that was ultimately combined into one CD for general distribution and sale. This project was such a success for the band that they plan to continue the practice of regularly distributing new music by releasing short 3-4 song EPs 2 to 3 times per year.
The Band is maturing musically and are steadily becoming more and more prolific in their song writing. They are excited about the future and truly believe their best days are still ahead of them.
“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 Soundcheck
Sarah Mac- Lead Vocals, Guitar, Piano
Charlie- Guitar, Vocals
Claire- Bass, Vocals
Sarah adds vocals to the band, as well as playing the guitar and piano. It was widely thought that she was an intuitive, natural musician until her recent acquisition of an accordian, which she has been unable to learn how to play so far (much to the relief of her band members). She has formal training in the mental health field and is the team leader in the quest for healthy band member relationships and emotional wholeness.
The Real Story: She was raised in the back woods of Montana by a family of derelict Koala bears. At age 18 she relocated to Alabama where she soon became Miss Turkey Festival 1998. After graduating from Florida State University with a degree in…something…she learned of the recently formed Sarah Mac Band. Once she fully comprehended the serendipitousness of stumbling across a band already named after her, she lobbied for a few years and finally gained admittance to the band. In her spare time, Sarah likes to turn used milk carton jugs into hand puppets that look like the characters from TV’s Cheers (her Norm is on display in the local museum of folk art).
Charlie, the oldest member of the Sarah Mac Band, lost his passport, which prevented the Sarah Mac Band from co-headlining U2’s last world tour. He complains that his life is ruled by women– Sarah and Claire in the context of the band, and his amazing wife Jaye, otherwise. He finds solace in practicing the guitar, which he has only been playing now for two weeks, and still finds the strength to ever remain “your hero and mine.”
The Real Story: Born a child prodigy, Charlie was an expert Cook by age 4, routinely dominating Iron Chef competitions even before they existed. He opened his own culinary school at age 13 and then traveled the globe teaching world renown chefs the finer points of sauce preparation. Statues honoring him were erected in various European locations such as Rome, Paris, and Brussels (he makes a mean Belgian Waffle). In between all the cooking, Charlie found time to get married and have two children, all of whom he immediately put to work in his kitchen. Four weeks ago, Charlie announced to his family and friends that he was sick of cooking and wanted to take up guitar, and since then has been teaching himself to play. After answering an ad he saw in the sunday classifieds, he became the third member of the Sarah Mac Band.
Claire is the business and the brains behind the Sarah Mac Band franchise, sending out detailed weekly schedules to everyone first thing on Monday mornings to keep them all on track. She suffers from insomnia, which makes her the official driver for travel after late night gigs. She has years of formal training in piano and guitar, and then dabbled in hand percussion before deciding to learn to play the bass to fill out the SMB rhythm section.
The Real Story: Not much is known about Claire’s early childhood. There are rumors of her existence and whereabouts up to age 15, but the details are very sketchy. One theory involves a kidnapping and a traveling circus, and this somewhat disturbing photo might back that possibility up. After breezing through high school and college, Claire put her degrees in engineering, organic chemistry, physics, and economics to use by forming the Sarah Mac Band (even though at this point she was the only member of the band). Upon meeting the aforementioned Sarah Mac, she contemplated changing the band’s name, but soon relented to Sarah’s pleas to join. The band was growing!