Tag Archives: Brian Fechino

Anchorage Children’s Home

For the past four years, we have been lucky to be a part of a great music festival, Rock by the Sea. Even cooler than the fact that it’s a fun festival and we’ve become quite fond of the staff, other bands, and the festival attendees (it has a pretty loyal following and they return year after year, bringing new people with them every time), it’s a fundraiser for several Florida charities. Although the roster of charities that we support tends to fluctuate a bit, there are always the staples: The Pediatric Brain Cancer Foundation, Camp Sunshine, and the Down Syndrome Association of Tallahassee.

This year, the festival outgrew its original home of St. George Island and moved west to Panama City Beach I know, right? Because it’s all MTV Spring Break-ish, I haven’t actually been there since a senior field trip to the famed “strip.” I’m kind of okay with that—except that this experience broke my stereotype. And although I’m not sure that I’m ready to give Panama City Beach another shot in my spare time, it was a really fun trip and a nice change for our Rock by the Sea weekend.

One of the really cool parts about moving to Panama City Beach is that one of the new charities added to the roster this year was actually based in Panama City. The Anchorage Children’s Home is just over the bridge in Panama City proper and provides stable group housing for children and teens who have experienced abuse, severe neglect and runaways.

Brian Fechino doesn’t play acoustic guitars– instead, he just brings his electric and his teensy amp that clips onto his belt. It’s actually kind of cool! So cool that we felt the need to take a photo.

The Sarah Mac Band went to Panama City early so that along with Brian Fechino and Jackson Rohm, we could actually go to Anchorage and hang out with the kids, talk to them about what we actually do,  and play a little music for them. Despite the fact that I’m pretty well versed in all types of music and could identify most artists and songs that I hear on the radio, I was not prepared for the barrage of requests for covers of Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, Miranda Lambert, Gretchen Wilson, and the Pistol Annies… and Carrie Underwood…. And Carrie Underwood… Did I mention Carrie Underwood? So instead, I sang backup harmonies for Jackson as he covered  Kenny Chesney and Toby Keith (I did have to draw the line at Toby Keith—it offends every particle in my body to even say words that Toby Keith has made money off of, in spite of the fact that I  idolize a guy who has written quite a few of his hits) and then later Brian and Charlie jammed to some Sarah Mac Band original songs that I got to sing.

L to R: the back of Sarah Mac’s head, Brian Fechino (yes, he’s totally wearing his sunglasses inside), and Jackson Rohm at the Anchorage Children’s home in Panama City, FL.

We left and went back to the weird world of music festival-ness, but to my joy and surprise, as I was walking around the next night, watching some other bands before our set time, I ran into all of the kids coming in the gates. They got free VIP passes (along with the chaperones, RBtS ain’t no fool to let teenagers run wild at a music festival at an MTV Spring Break-ish club) to attend the festival as well.  It was just kind of neat to see them in their world and then run into them again, seeing us in our world.

Anyway, they sent a thank you letter to Rock By the Sea not too long ago. I thought that it was really cool to know that on some level, what we do (entertaining, which on some level is just a really self-serving profession) makes a difference. So, I wanted to share.

Anchorage Children’s Home Letter

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Old Green Stanky and a trip to the beach

I love to play with fabric… textures, colors, patterns.

Kind of like a baby staring at all of the swirling colors on the tv, it’s very easy for me to get caught up in the experience of fabrics. Maybe that’s what I love about the idea of reupholstering furniture. I can take this old dead thing and give it color and texture and pattern, all swirled together to make a new, beautiful, useful piece of art. That’s why a few weeks ago, when Housemate and I were walking home from delivering a fresh, hot, bread pudding to some of our neighbors, we stopped at the dead couch on the side of the road. I checked it out to make sure that it wasn’t too difficult of an undertaking to strip and redo, and then sent her up to the house to ask if it was indeed a cast-off. It is very un-neighborly to steal someone’s couch, especially if it’s only on the side of the road because unbeknownst to them, their prankster teenage kids threw it to the curb to be funny.

Housemate knocked on the door and confirmed that “Old Green Stanky” was indeed unwanted and homeless and then we flexed our independent girl muscles and carried him all the way home. Now as he awaits his makeover, he sits on our back porch, making us look kind of like a frat house. I’m a little bit embarrassed, but I figure that since we have a very tall privacy fence, nobody will know… except now I guess, you. And then one day, when I have $200 extra hanging around to buy fancy fabric, he will get a new skin and a new life… and probably a new home because our house is pretty small and overfilled as it, without a second couch to contend with. Let me know if you need a new old couch 🙂

Regardless of what the future holds for OGS, right now, he serves his purpose well. I use him in the early evenings to sit on the porch and enjoy the day’s end while I write new songs. This afternoon, I was writing with OGS when Housemate’s dad came over to do some odd jobs that we needed some help with.

“Oh Sarah Mac, how did the weekend rock show at the beach treat you?” Note: Please read all of his commentary with a Caribbean accent in your head because that’s how he talks in real life and it makes it that much more charming.

Since I had an invitation to do so, I gave Papa Joe a meticulously detailed rundown of the Sarah Mac Band’s experience this weekend at the Rock By the Sea Festival on St. George Island, FL.

I started by telling him about how great it was to be on the island, staying on our own little beach house, spending my time with my best friends, enjoying each other, enjoying nature, and doing what we’re most passionate about—playing music (although reupholstery runs a close second in my book). Just for the record, we did not go swimming.

Then I told him about how we got to meet and greet our already known fans and also our newly made fans. We got to listen to their stories, trace all the paths that got them here, learn their names and what they’re about. We met a large Tallahassee contingency that we expect to see in the next couple of weeks at our Tallahassee shows. We met a large Tampa contingent too. Based on the momentum that we have right now in Tampa/St. Pete, when you add in these guys, I think that we might actually sell out the Hideaway Café when we play there in June. I’ll be expecting to see all of you. Know that when we play the Hideaway, we have been known to stay late into the night, drinking and hanging out and playing impromptu, acoustic after show jam sessions. I’m not promising anything, but I will let it tease you in hopes that it might sway you if you’re on the cusp. Just go ahead and put it on your calendar!

Charlie Walker invited me up to sing an Otis Redding cover with him. I’m not sure that I actually got the lyrics right, but he was still super gracious. High-five, Charlie II!

Then I moved on to tell him about why I appreciate Rock By the Sea so much. In our brief time of being the Sarah Mac Band, we’ve been lucky enough to add quite a few music festivals to our resume. The thing that distinguished Rock By the Sea from the other ones is that somehow written into the DNA of this festival is an added element of community. As artists, we are able to spend time with other artists and get to know them. At this particular festival we made some new SMBBFFB (Sarah Mac Band Best Friend Forever Band): Charlie Walker (who will forever be Charlie II in my book since we already have our own Charlie), Brian Fechino (from the Pat McGee Band among many others), and Keith Kane (From Vertical Horizon) for whom we developed an awkward propensity for calling “Kevin.” Side Note: Jeannie and Leo (from our other SMBFFB, Sleepin’ Dogz), if you’re reading this, don’t feel threatened. Our hearts are big enough to love all of you without anyone getting the shaft.

Check out Keith and Brian’s new project with percussionist Chardy McEwan

“Well Sarah Mac, that is a wonderful rock star weekend. That sounds dope.” Don’t forget the Caribbean accent.

“Huh? Wait, Papa Joe, where did you learn to talk like that?” Not with the accent, but with the “hip-and-with-it” slang that the kids are using these days.

“Oh, well now Sarah Mac, I keep up with my American Idol. That’s dope, dawg. Your weekend was just simply dope. Now I will take my leave. I hope that the shower works better now ladies. God Bless. And Sarah dear, give my fondest regards to your father. Yes, tell Mister Elwood that I hope that his trip to Hawaii was lovely. Yes, tell him that his old friend Joe said hello.” Then he gets into his car and proceeds with his signature move… which is knocking over our mailbox as he backs out of the driveway.

So, here I sit with OGS, on our pollen coated back porch… by this time, it’s too dark to read the rough lyrics on the notebook. Since I just heard Housemate open a bottle of Malbec in the kitchen, I think that I’ll just call it a night and go inside to try to cadge a glass from her stash. I need to give Mister Elwood a call anyway. He would want to know that his old friend Joe sends his fondest regards.