Tag Archives: music

Put A Bird On It!!

I was always a Girl Gone Green… even early on.

In April of my 13th year, I used my hard earned money to buy Seventeen Magazine. It had an attractive, clean looking cover with lots of green for Earth Day (April 20th for those of you who don’t recycle and drive Hummers). I felt so cool and grown up reading all about natural exfoliants, using chamomile and lemon juice for natural highlights, and recycling…

…and a whole section on the truth about safe sex (gasp!).

Mama Bear did not feel that this was appropriate reading material for her tweenaged daughter so she took it away (as she did with baby Sarah’s Flashdance soundtrack and then later, teenaged Sarah’s spaghetti strap tank tops and shorty shorts). Extending an olive branch, she replaced my glossy conduit of Satan with a subscription to its much lamer, less worldly, little sister, Teen Magazine.

I think that I read Teen exactly once. So one might say that the consolation prize was a waste of money. Probably true, but the whole experience did serve two purposes:

1)     I met my BFF (we’re celebrating our 20th anniversary this Autumn)

2)     All the girls looking so suave and sophisticated (in Seventeen, not Teen) made me realize that I was totally destined to be a supermodel, for which the first step was to get a makeover and some photos at Glamour Shots to jumpstart my portfolio… obviously!


It’s not a real Glamour Shot, but I still have some key elements. Please note the cool accessories and a prop!

I’m not sure what the hold up was on Mama Bear’s part (probably telling Mister Elwood that we were going to shell out the big bucks for something as frivolous and vain as Glamour Shots). Regardless, she would not permit a trip to Glamour Shots. Much like her offer of a subscription to Teen, she set up a drape on our back porch, bought me a Caruso Molecular Hair Setter  to make fancy makeover hair, and took pictures of me for my supermodel portfolio.

Although I am still quite bitter about the magazine switch-up, I will eternally praise my mother for her wisdom in preventing my modeling debut with Glamour Shots. Had I adorned myself with the bedazzled denim and cowboy hat of all of my peers, I might find myself twenty years later on a website such as this one (Seriously, you need to look at this stuff!).  Instead, all photographic evidence of that phase in my teenagedom are locked up in a cedar chest in a remote location, guarded by expert markswoman Katniss Everdeen and three vicious wiener dogs.

One thing still remains… my desire for a makeover. I mean, I don’t think that I’d be okay about being on What Not To Wear, but the idea of people investing in making you beautiful is a fun idea. Give me some pretty hair and teach me how to do makeup (specifically how to rock the liquid eyeliner).

old logoThere are perks to being a rock star, though. Even if you don’t get a fancy makeover, sometimes PR companies get really excited about your music and your band and then decide to give your brand a makeover! We loved our old bird in tree logo (“Put a bird on it!”). So when they said, “a key marketing tool is visually distinguishing your brand,” I got all defensive about our little bird.  They said, “No, this is cool, we can work with it.” We bit our fingernails and waited until the big reveal, which was met with jubilation and thanksgiving.

Our old bird in a dead tree got <GASP!!> a makeover! And not only that, but the new made over logo won an ADDY award for Taproot Creative because it’s so dang cool.

new logo

Here’s the funny thing, with the exception of the Purple Martins, Goldfinches, and such that Mister Elwood used to bring to the yard with his homemade peanut butter/birdseed treats, I don’t know a whole lot about birds. Since the bird is so prominent in our new logo, without fail, at every show we play, I am asked what type of bird it is. I always get so flustered because:

1)     I have no idea

2)     The guy who created it was an artist and not a bird enthusiast… so there is a really good chance that it’s just something that he made up, pulling together all of the things that he knows about birds to make one that was pleasing to the eye and fit all the rules of logo making

I admitted this to a gentleman at one of our recent shows in Asheville, NC and then two days later received this email.


I did a little research and determined that the bird in your logo is Veery Thrush.  Just for fun: Hylocichla fuscescens.  It summers in deciduous forests and nests on or near the ground.  The Veery’s song is a loud, rolling series of rapid flute like notes, dropping down the scale, 8-14 per minute (kind of like a riff I guess).

We really enjoyed your show in Asheville.

Let it be known henceforth, that the Sarah Mac Band’s mascot is the mighty, Fighting Veery Thrush.

If you’re like me and your Mama Bear never let you go to Glamour Shots and get a makeover… put a bird on it (preferably a Sarah Mac Band Veery Thrush)! That’s just as cool.


Pep Talk


Bucky, the recording studio dog, takes a break from recording to jump in the lake for a hot second.

I’m tucked away in the backwoods studios for Gatorbone Records, drinking too many cups of coffee, and waiting to lay down my backing vocals for some new Grant Peeples tunes. In my downtime, I’ve been talking shop with Elisabeth Williamson, which I would recommend for anyone who needs a good pep talk about being a musician (or about anything, for that matter).

Sometimes I get super down on the world and feel sorry for myself because it’s tough in the world for a musician. Although the rational side of me knows that everyone has their own type of struggle, I still believe it when the Krazy Kat Lady (that’s what I call the little devil that sits on my shoulder and whispers irrational/mean/untrue things in my ear… yes, “k” instead of “c”) tells me I would be better off had I chosen to be an accountant, chemist, or dog trainer.

This is not one of those times. Although I’m poorer than I’d like to be and less well know professionally, I’m pretty content right now with my place in the world. I’m doing okay.

Charlie sent me an email not too long ago:

Here is my word for you today:
“What is worth doing even if you fail?”
Is it music?

I think it is. I think that this is it.

And since you can’t have an Elisabeth Williamson pep talk, here’s one for you:

Claire’s 2011 Best of: Music Edition

Hi Everyone,

I’m the least stellar example of a dutiful blogger these days. This morning over coffee and shopping, Claire was telling me about her Top Music Picks For 2011 List. I thought that maybe since it’s almost the New Year and I’m a little overwhelmed with how behind I am on blogging, I could publish Claire’s list to tide you over while I get my act together and craft a blog post. She’s the one that always introduces Charlie and me to the hippest, coolest, new music anyway.

I think that we’ll probably have some more Top of 2011 lists coming…

[Don’t worry, we didn’t kick Charlie out of the band. He’s just been home in bed, super sick, so he has not been privy to the coffee, shopping and Best of 2011 List comparisons. I did see him this morning and talk to him on the phone a few minutes ago. So, as of early evening on Friday, December 30th, he was still kicking and the flu hadn’t done him in yet.]

Keep on rocking in the free world,


 Claire’s 2011(ish)* Faves (somewhere in transferring this from email to blog, I lost one of the songs and I’m not sure which one it is… sorry!!)

If you have Spotify, you can click here to listen to her list as a playlist.

*Note from Claire: This is not a true “best of 2011” list because quite a few of these came out prior to 2011.  However, I let those slide because these songs were my soundtrack to 2011….

  • Share the Moon – Indigo Girls
  • Wilhelm Scream – James Blake
  • Go Outside – Cults
  • Helplessness Blues – Fleet Foxes
  • Lost in My Mind – The Head and the Heart
  • Up Up Up – Givers
  • The Way it Will Be – Gillian Welch
  • Down by the Water – The Decemberists
  • Learn How to Love – Tedeschi Trucks Band
  • Pumped Up Kicks – Foster the People
  • I Will Remain – Matthew and the Atlas
  • Repo Man – Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs
  • Howlin’ for You – The Black Keys
  • It’s Not Impossible -Ben Sollee
  • Tree by the River – Iron & Wine
  • Shake it Out – Florence + the Machine
  • You are a Tourist – Death Cab for Cutie
  • How Far We’ve Come – Dawes
  • Always – Blind Pilot
  • Be Set Free – Langhorne Slim
  • American Nomad – The Apache Relay
  • Born with a Broken Heart – David Wax Museum
  • Up All Night – Alex Clare
  • Goat Rodeo – Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile
  • Don’t Gotta Work it Out – Fitz and the Tantrums
  • Bad as Me – Tom Waits
  • Barton Hollow – The Civil Wars
  • East Harlem – Beirut
  • Rolling in the Deep – Adele
  • Home – Lisa Hannigan
  • The Lion’s Roar – First Aid Kit
  • This Could All Be Yours – Guster
  • Hannah – Freelance Whales
  • Fathers Be Kind – Ivan & Aloysha
  • F*** You – Cee Lo Green

Sarah adds to Claire’s list:

I concur with most of Claire’s choices. But there are some noteworthy songs that made my 2011 Soundtrack that she failed to mention. The same * disclaimer applies (see Claire’s note above about things that weren’t technically released in 2011).

  • Tell ‘Em- Sleigh Bells*
  • Palomino- Mates of State
  • Dark Horses- Switchfoot
  • The Catalyst- Linkin Park*
  • Sugar Buzz- k.d. lang and the Siss Boom Bang
  • Young Blood- The Naked and Famous
  • Cough Syrup- Young the Giant*

Sarah’s “Least of 2011”:

Normally, I’m all about expressing your creativity through music. But seriously??!? Yikes!

  • E.T.- Katy Perry. Kind of freaks me out and I feel a little bit violated when I listen to it. And… the video is the creepiest thing that I’ve ever seen. Seriously.

Claire’s Favorite Live Shows of 2011:

She’s a concert goer. In fact, when we were in college and (strangely) had much more disposable income than we do now, jumping in a car with our friends and traveling all over creation to go to concerts was our hobby. Now with a few exceptions, we pretty much just watch the videos of the Tiny Desk Concerts on NPR.

  • Guster / Jukebox the Ghost – House of Blues (Orlando, FL)
  • Ray LaMontagne & The Pariah Dogs / Brandi Carlile – Verizon Amphitheatre (Atlanta, GA)
  • Gillian Welch – Georgia Theatre (Athens, GA)
  • Paul Simon – Hangout Fest (Gulf Shores, AL)
  • The Avett Brothers – Hangout Fest (Gulf Shores, AL)
  • The Black Keys – Hangout Fest (Gulf Shores, AL)
  • Amos Lee – Hangout Fest (Gulf Shores, AL)
  • Cee Lo Green – Hangout Fest (Gulf Shores, AL)
  • Dawes – Disc Exchange Record Store (Knoxville, TN)

Sarah adds to Claire’s list:

These days, I’m pretty stingy with my nights off. But there were a couple of concerts that I felt like were well worth exchanging for a relaxing night at home with a glass of wine and a good book.

  • Guster/ Jack’s Mannequin – The Ritz (Ybor City, FL) Not as good as Guster/ Jukebox the Ghost in Orlando, but it was still wonderful because I love Guster… and Claire and I got extra entertainment when we watched the totally plastered girl pass out at the bar while trying to order more alcohol and then get carried out by being thrown like a rag doll over a bouncer’s shoulder.
  • Mates of State- Club Downunder (Tallahassee, FL) Another of my favorite bands. Did not disappoint. We still talk amongst ourselves about the opening act that yelled to the audience, “How about you learn to respect the f***ing artist!” Poor form. Shocking and humorous, but still poor form, sir.
  • Bill Cosby- Ruby Diamond Auditorium (Tallahassee, FL) Not a concert per se… but just as good. He’s the greatest. So funny and so sweet and so old, it made me cry (not that such a feat is difficult).
  • The Head and the Heart- Telluride Bluegrass Festival (Telluride, CO)
  • The Decemberists- Telluride Bluegrass Festival (Telluride, CO) It actually wasn’t the greatest show I’ve ever seen, but it was fun. And I love them. And they were funny with their onstage antics. And Sara Watkins was filling in for Jenny (their accordion playing lady) while she went through cancer treatment (which was sad under the circumstances, but a fun treat).
  • Punch Brothers- Telluride Bluegrass Festival (Telluride, CO) These boys are so cute and so awesome. It excites me to see young people who are really good at playing their instrument and could do anything, but instead choose to play roots music. I definitely ran into Chris Thile in a coffee shop (literally… as in, I-wasn’t-looking-where-I-was-going –and-sort-of-crashed-and-almost-spilled-coffee-on-him…) and almost peed my pants because after I saw him play the mandolin in real life, I decided that I would need him to father my children.

Claire’s Near Miss Live Shows That Would’ve Been Favorites:

What?!? Canceling a show? They need to take a page from the Sarah Mac Band playbook. The show must go on (with the exception of maladies of the intestine, in which case, we’d rather not see them on stage).

  • Ben Sollee – Tallahassee (canceled)
  • The Civil Wars – Atlanta (canceled)
  • The Head and the Heart – Variety Playhouse (Atlanta) – The Sarah Mac Band was playing the same night a few doors down.  Got put on the list but couldn’t stay to see them because we had to head back to our venue and play for the six people in Atlanta who weren’t at the Head and the Heart show….

Sarah Adds to Claire’s List:

Shoulda, coulda, woulda. There’s always the one that got away (Yikes!! Another Katy Perry song!!). These are the ones that I would have added to the list were I Claire.

  • Mumford and Sons- Telluride Bluegrass Festival (Telluride, CO) – Technically, I listened to this live from the balcony of my condo. However, I was not in the audience because although it was the middle of summer, it was snowing and I was scared of getting wet and sick with shows to play the next week. Took one for the team.
  • Tori Amos- Cobb Energy Performance Arts Centre (Atlanta, GA) –It bled over into our rehearsal time for the Sarah Mac Band Christmas Shows. Boo, hiss. Again, took one for the team.

Go, Team Edward!

Email correspondence addressed to Claire, Sarah Mac, and Dave (Sarah Mac Band producer), from Charlie. Receive this morning at 11:00 AM, recounting the events of last night (I edited it a bit since Charlie’s not known for his stellar grammar and punctuation):

“The Sarah Mac Band held their initial session of Friday Night Songwriter Sessions © last night and it was pretty successful.  With so many new tunes floating in the air, we felt we needed to sit down and see what could be fleshed out on some of these ideas.

As one would expect, Charlie arrived with a cadre of extremely well thought out and virtually finished masterpieces. On the other hand, Sarah Mac showed up with her typical assortment of ragtag, lame musical ideas and random words that needed to be joined into a pastiche to create a passable tune. Therefore, our first session was committed to trying to bring order to Sarah’s ideas.  After several heated arguments, which sometimes degenerated into insults and tears (Sarah can be mean at times and Charlie is a sensitive guy), we are happy to say that we came away a little scarred, but with the makings of two good songs.

So, I have attached those two songs hear for your listening pleasure.  I also spent last night and this morning listening to these songs about 10 times each to think about how we need to develop these some more.  So I have included my thoughts on each song below.”

Note to reader: Those songs are not attached, nor available for your listening pleasure at this point. You’ll have to wait and buy the next album (assuming that these make the cut).

I often complain to Housemate (or any other person that will listen, really) that I’m so far away from being married and having a mortgage and making babies that it’s embarrassing. Mama Bear and Baby Bear are chock full of suggestions as to why that is and what I might do to counteract such a predicament:

“Wear more makeup and learn to flirt better.”

The one that stings a little bit worse than the others: “You terrify men.”

And then Mister Elwood chimed in last week with his sage wisdom: “Girls that put out quick get lots of dates.”

This morning, I realized that a big part of the problem is that my one track mind might be on the wrong track. Even on my off nights, I’m Sarah Mac Banding. As in last night, which was a free Friday night when most other girl my age would be out partying it up with their high heels on… I was at Charlie’s house, workshopping new songs.

This morning, when Charlie sent a funny follow-up email, I just had to have another laugh at how I’m sort of sabotaging myself. Honestly though,  I just can’t see myself adjusting my behaviors anytime soon to incorporate more bar trips in high heels on off nights. I get enough bars in high heels when I’m working… and enough action [read: groping] from drunk people. And for the most part, like I said on my birthday, I’m happy with where I am (but not totally because I’m a Scorpio and we don’t do that, remember?).

The special person, mortgage and babies, like the songs that we “found” last night, they’ll come when they come. Big picture things usually work out the way that they’re supposed to—at least I have to believe that, or I’ll be angsty.

Besides, I was reminded while experiencing a really great concert last weekend, I’m pretty convinced that I was completely, 100% created for music. Music, period. It’s like the language that I understand and speak and work in and move in—and I love it.

Plus, on a Friday night, no bar regardless of how cool and hip it may be, can beat hanging with the kind of people who use the word “pastiche” in an email…

Bear Creek Festival Tickets! Only $100

We’re excited to be playing at Bear Creek Music Festival on Friday, November 14th!  If you are looking for tickets to the festival, we have some discounted weekend passes!  Passes are currently on sale for $145 and will cost $165 at the gate.  Buy them directly from us instead!  ONLY $100!  Hurry and contact us as we have a very limited number of passes available for purchase.  

Contact: claire@sarahmacband.com

VIDEO: I’m Not Scared of Anything

Brand new song- performed by Sarah Mac and Charlie on October 3rd.  Let us know what you think!

I’m not scared of anything except dying and being lonely
I don’t see what the big deal is
Why do we make mountains out of everything

Some people I know just think I’m crazy 
(its just you might be a little bit out of your head)
Everywhere I go they are trying to save me
(its better them trying to save you than leave you for dead)
I’ve got to admit the world’s a bit out of control
(its spiraling down to hell but youll be sure to be safe if you just stay right here.)
But I really don’t worry cause I’ll just sit in my room here singing

I’m not scared of anything except dying and being lonely
I’m not scared of anything except dying and being lonely
I’m not scared of anything except traffic jams and undercooked meat
I’m not scared of anything except real conversation and sand in my sheets
I’m not scared of anything except cancer and getting bad grades
I’m not scared of anything except morning breath and hand grenades
I’m not scared of anything except bank bailouts and deficit spending
I’m not scared of anything except Sarah Palin and John McCain

I’m not scared of anything except dying and being lonely
I’m not scared of anything except dying and being lonely
I’m not scared of anything except dying and being alone

SMB Interview Part 3

I found ‘What You Need’ very easy to relate to. I loved it! Could you
talk me through that track a little? Specifically, could you shed some light
on what the lyric, “We still don’t know you like we know you want to be
known…” is alluding to?

SMB: We talk about this a lot. 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. We want people to know all of our deepest darkest secrets and all of our ugliness or things that we’re ashamed of, or scared to show, and then still to love us anyway. We want to be the kind of people that always err on the side of loving anyway, which doesn’t mean that it always plays out that way, but that’s the ideal.

SM: One of the things that I appreciate so much about working with these guys is that I feel like we have made a really solid commitment to love, respect, and support each other… period. With that comes a tremendous freedom to be yourself and not be scared that as soon as something really awkward, insensitive or selfish comes out of my mouth, that they’ll decide to ditch me and find another singer who is kinder and gentler. It also makes songwriting and working together easier. If one of us offers an idea that gets tossed, it doesn’t hurt our feelings because we know that it’s not a reflection of our feelings for each other. So we have the freedom to really be creative and not censor ourselves because nobody is going to judge you if you contribute a stupid idea. They might laugh at (with) you, but they won’t judge you and they won’t kick you out of the band for having dorky ideas.

CV: I agree with Sarah on this point but it is important that people understand that this ability to work together is really learned. Through experience I learn that my rejected ideas are not a reflection on me and my talent, or lack thereof, but reflect a desire to create the best song possible. I think as a band we recognize that talent wise each one of us is replaceable with someone of much greater ability but band wise none of us are replaceable.

The absolute stormer of a title track: Awakening! I felt that this track
showed the first indications of pain influencing lyrical content in a very
positive way… What are your thoughts and why did you decide to use it as a
title track?

SMB: Honestly, 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]. 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.