Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire...

I get a little sad when Christmas music comes on in a store and people around me cringe. It's too bad that we're all bombarded with the cheesiest of cheesy versions of Christmas tunes from October through December. These songs are meant to bring people together to revel in a warm collective holiday spirit, not make them reach for the earplugs. How can we rescue Christmas songs from their Muzaky fate?

I have just the ticket: a Christmas singalong! Or better yet, our First Annual Country Christmas Singalong Spectacular! Together, we can imbue all of our favorite Christmas songs with genuine holiday spirit and garnish them with beautiful harmonies.

In case you can't read the information in the image above, the singalongs will take place on Saturday, December 19th at 7:30 at the Guilford Church (Guilford, VT) and Sunday, December 20th at 8pm at Jalopy (Brooklyn, NY).

See you there!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I know rednecks who smoke weed at work and grow their hair out long,
I know hippies who hunt deer and bear and sing Merle Haggard songs,
the average Okie from Muskogee wouldn't know whose ass to kick,
Cause it gets harder every day to tell a hippie from a hick.


Monday, November 30, 2009

Long Drive

Road reflectors shine so bright
on the interstate at night,
they mark a lane to drive your car
but never tell you where you are.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Zara's welcome home song

Zara herniated two discs in her back a few days before we left on our MONTH-LONG tour in September. It was a terrifying (for all of us) and painful (for Zara) time. The band wrote this song for her on the day she got out of the hospital. Bridget gets all the credit for coming up with the "hernitated....sedated" line. Genius.

As a side note, Zara didn't miss a single show! Now that's dedication, folks...


Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Country Christmas Singalong Spectacular!! Coming to a town near you...

That is, if you live in New York City or Brattleboro, VT.

That's right, folks. We're laying our normal repertoire aside for a few nights this December to present you with a Country Christmas Singalong of epic proportions. We plan to lead you in rousing renditions of all your favorite Christmas carols (or wacky winter-themed songs) accompanied by telecaster, twin fiddles, Sweetback harmony singing... I'm getting a little overly excited just writing about it! Can you tell that I REALLY like Christmas?

Anyway, to make sure we don't miss any of your favorite songs we're opening this forum up to requests. Write them in the comments section! And even if you live too far away to actually participate in the event this year, feel free to let us know what you think we should include on the set list for the night.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009


The Phillies give me mental strain,
heartburn, stress and stomach pain.
A six run lead, and they give up four.
I just can't watch this anymore.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Have you seen my chicken, part 1

Click to enlarge. Many thanks to Linda Erday for the chickens...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Potato Salad

There was a poster at the Hooker Dunham Theater which depicted a womans head coming through her legs in a very strange manner. Believe it or not it was a family show... but that aside, Jesse was convinced that this was not humanly possible. I assured him that it was in fact possible, and had two words that could prove it...


Monday, October 19, 2009

Jesse's not the only poet in the band...

Biking in China

Some people in China ride bikes everyday
Over bridges and under the arch
I'm peddling along in what would be May
Except for the fact that it's March

Biking all day makes my leg muscles big
My red T-shirt makes me look bright
I'm glad I came here in the year of the pig
Though people treat every year right.

-Emily (circa 1995)

Written following my 7th grade class trip to China. We biked all over Guangdong Province (near Guangzhou). Note that it wasn't a long haul, since I was living in Hong Kong at the time. You can see its proximity to Guangzhou nicely on the fine map I drew around the same time.

Ah, the things one finds when cleaning out the storage unit...

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Camping is a strange endeavor,
Always done in nasty weather.
At least that's how it seems to me,
Hunched up beneath this hemlock tree.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Bad Ideas

A few years ago, a news story was aired
that a kid, near my home, had been bit by a bear.
Two days later we learned that the parents had planned
to photo the bear eating from the kids hand.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

They Say Virginia is for Lovers

A talented person in Virginia made this and it got passed along to us...



p.s. One of these days i'm going to learn how to make my video clips and photos from tour into a little movie. Oh, man! The blog won't know what hit it!

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Well, not exactly, but I'll definitely say the Sweetbacks all had our fair share of the fine wines served at our gig this evening. The spot was called The New Hope Winery located in, you guessed it, New Hope, PA. Thanks to all who came out. It was an awesome show!

After a safe and speedy drive back to Brooklyn, We came home to a nice surprise via GoogleAlerts... NBC NY wants you to go see The Sweetback Sisters! I don't know how our name got in the hands of NBC, but we're sure glad it did. Tomorrow's gonna be a hot show!
"COUNTRY-STYLE: Don’t miss a rare opportunity to catch the Sweetback Sisters live at the Living Room: Zara Bode and Emily Miller layer gorgeous girl-on-girl harmonies over swell honky-tonk melodies – the kind that make Loretta Lynn fans weep – and you just know you’re in for some hot and/or mournful fiddle. Trust us: These guys are brilliant. Saturday, 11PM."
Here's the direct link: CLICK HERE

So we'll see you tomorrow then hmmmm?

The Living Room
154 Ludlow St NY,NY
October 10th @ 11pm

Sleep Tight!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Oh My Home

West Virginia may seem sort of down at the mouth,
too poor for the North but too cold for the South.
We don't match the Midwest or conform with the Coast,
but we love where we live a lot better than most.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Vive la Poulet!

Howdy all...

I'll admit it. I know close to no French, but I did get through that Blog title, so I'll give myself a little pat on the back. I've got France on the mind as we just got notice of our first review over there, all the while I'm sitting in a delicious bakery, Tartine, here in San Francisco. I'm on the otherside of my usual coast, enjoying recovery from the tour/my back injury which I'm not sure if we mentioned here on the blog. I'm sure Emmy will post video soon of her "get well soon" acapella number. VERY impressive.

After a long tour, the downtime is much needed, and it doesn't hurt that the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival is going on here this weekend! AWESOME! Hopefully some year The Sweetbacks Sisters will get to play there, but I wont hold my breath!

So, first things first. Fried Chicken.
New York doesn't know it, but there is some mighty fine chicken to be had in our fine burroughs. I'd like to thank Miss McFadden for sending this New York Magazine article our way. It's entitled EXTRA CRISPY.

Second things second. Fried chicken.
I'm not sure if anyone else told you, but Emily, Jesse, Stefan, and I all experienced a fried chicken beyond belief while in Raleigh, NC. Come 4pm The Berkeley Cafe was not ready for load-in so they suggest we go down the road to the "Mecca" restaraunt. There we were greeted warmly by the 3 team staff: hostess, waitress, and cook (who went out for a cigarette as soon as our order was in (Love it!) I'm a frequent patron of the old-school/mom 'n pop shop/dives so I appreciate these kind of flaws, but boy did we (eventually) get some good grub. Freshly sweet/mixed teas, green beans, beets, macaroni salads, and fried chicken so good it'll make your heart skip a beat (probably not in a good way...) I'll post photos soon. I got some lovely shots here.

I haven't checked it out myself yet, but the entire show at the Berkeley Cafe in Raleigh, NC is now posted at this site The Internet Archive. If you have a show of our you'd like to share put it up there! Here's the direct link as well: but I'll tell you right now... try not to get to overwhelmed by the applause. All 10 of our audience members were small but MIGHTY!

Third things third... You guessed it... Fried Chicken.

Okay I'm going to get back to some french buttery goodness, and this cup of coffee.

Enjoy the day where ever you are.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I find Ashville very nice.
We hit the taqueria twice.
It rained a lot, my feet got wet,
My shoes have not dried out as yet.


Dreaming of Pancakes Past...

There's a lot of things I like about Virginia. This particular trip I found myself swooning over southern style architecture, the crispness in the air, and the turning leaves. *sigh* But in Charlottesville, VA our dear friends and hosts Jesse Harper and Adam Larrabee brought another style of beauty into our lives. These fine gentlemen brought the The Sweetback crew to a fine establishment called the Blue Moon Diner. Not only do they have fresh 'n tasty ingredients, but they have a way with... powdered sugar.

This particular morning the special was a Christopher Walkin (with Dwight from The Office on the side) These cakes were little pieces of art, and didn't taste too shabby either! But I wont lie, I dont care how fancy you make em, pancakes aren't nearly as amazing without real maple syrup. no way! no how!

Who's hungry???


Blogging from Greensboro

We just played at The Garage in Winston-Salem, NC. I love that place!

Here's a picture of a the show courtesy of our friend Linda (who is currently feeding us amazing pesto pasta and Green Flashes!)

And here is a picture of the Green Flashes. The name is no joke!

Thanks, Linda!

Monday, September 21, 2009


Gentle readers, I confess,
I've been, of late, inspirationless.
I've had the will and had the time,
To write insipid little rhymes,
But from my pen these have not sprung,
and neither from my keys nor tongue.

So here's what I resolve to do:
Compose each day a line or two,
And post them on this humble site,
At least the good ones that I like.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Passim debut

As Zara mentioned earlier, we had an awesome time sharing bills with Joy Kills Sorrow last week. They're fabulous! [Check out the video below for audiovisual proof]

The second of those shows was at the legendary Club Passim in Cambridge, where we enjoyed ourselves immensely. Matt Smith, who runs the club, is a top-notch fellow. He ran the evening (and the sound!!) beautifully.

Lots of wonderful people were in the audience, including Jeffrey Remz of Country Standard Time, who wrote a nice review (Thanks!). Here are some excerpts:

"The sextet is a country-based group with bases in those country hotbeds of Brooklyn and western Massachusetts with sweet sweet vocal harmonies courtesy of female lead singers Emily Miller and Zara Bode.

The group released their debut, "Chicken Ain't Chicken," a few months back on western Massachusetts indie label Signature Sounds, and it's a keeper. The singers sound like they've been doing it for a long long time with their voices blending together very nicely. In concert, they started out slowly on a song by the late Clayton McMichen of Skillet Lickers fame. The song started slow, but they picked it right up with a good blending of voices. This was telling of what was to come from these vocalists.

But that was not the sum and total of this band. A real ace in the hole was guitarist Ross Bellenoit. He may be short on stature, but he is ultra-long on skill. Bellenoit ripped off numerous sturdy, steely, meaty guitar leads throughout their too short 50-minute set.

The Sweetback Sisters mixed original with covers such as Bob Wills' Feeling Bad, which closed the evening, to Jimmy Martin's Don't Cry to Me. They took the varied songs and made them sound their own... These guys were keepers."

Ok, without further ado, here are some videos. I hope we see you down the road sometime soon (like in VA, WV, TN, or NC in the next two weeks!).

xoxo Emily

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

An ode to yodeling

A little "how to" to start us out...

Our friend Nora Jane rocks it on a song that she wrote:

Sing it, Hank:

Und...das beste Jodler in der Welt:

They do it over in the country of Georgia (and how!):

Finally, the Dezurik Sisters are simply the best harmony yodelers I have ever heard:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Watermelon Wednesday

Did you know that today was Watermelon Wednesday? Well in the sweet town of Whately, MA on any given Wednesday in the summer time you'll find a lil chapel down a windy road, with some killer music along with, you guessed it, watermelons.

Today was a lovely evening for the Sweetback crew complete we nummy treats, and a warm and welcoming audience. It was the first of two bills we'll be sharing with the killer quintet Joy Kills Sorrow. JKS, as they're called if you're 'in the know, are one of the newest bands of the newgrass movement. Each player is incredible in their own right, but we aren't ashamed to play favorites, so we'd say we like the bass player best.

Check em out sometime. Or even better come to see us co-bill at Club Passim tomorrow in Cambridge, MA.

Deal? Deal.
See you tomorrow.


p.s. Did you know in Japan they have square watermelons? They're entirely natural, just formed in cases while they're still growing to "save space in the fridge." Hmmm I don't trust em.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Undie performs a special show

Guitar interlude: Ross
Maniacal laughter: Ross and Emmy
Unwitting thespian: Un Deux Trois

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


New York City's full of treats;
all the things I love to eat.
Roast-pork buns, and dumpling soup,
spinach pie and falafel, too.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A shout out to some talented songwriters!

On Chicken Ain't Chicken, we were lucky enough to record several songs from modern-day songwriters who write songs for today, tomorrow and yesterday. They really are a talented bunch. Here's to them:

Mary Lucey-Cardine (who co-wrote "They Say Virginia is for Lovers")

Kristin Andreassen (who co-wrote "They Say Virginia is for Lovers" and wrote "Red Shoes Blues")

Josh Ritter
(who wrote "Deputy Blues No.2")

Own own Jesse Milnes and our friend Doug Van Gundy (who co-wrote "You're Gone Again")

[NOTE: Doug gets two videos because not only does he play music, but he was also a contestant on "Who wants to be a millionaire" back in the day]

Thanks to all you talented folks!


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

To Blog or not to Blog

We live in a computer world. Even country music is riding the digital wave. So the websites have to be snazzy, the pictures crisp, and the songs available via MP3, and the blog must be blogged on. Thems some tough cookies, when you just want to sit around and play guitar. But we're working on it, and in the mean time you can check out the new look of the Sweetback Sister's website. It's a quirky server at times, but it allows us the freedom to change it as we please and we vagabond musicians like those kinds of liberties.

I would also like to take this moment to make a public announcement that we will be "tweeting" ALL of the Sweetback September tour! For those of you not well versed in "twit" this means we're on This dorkiness will be available thanks to Ross' iphone. So follow the SweetbackDish Yum!

Talk to y'all soon. And please tell your friends about our upcoming tour!

Love from the big city,


Like a phoenix from the ashes...

...the blog will rise again!

Sorry that we have been remiss in our blogging duties. I can't believe that Jesse hasn't posted a SINGLE poem this month. This will soon be remedied, I hope.

In the meantime, I want to pronounce the commencement of our September tour. Here are the dates:

Sept 4: Brooklyn, NY. Southpaw. 8pm. $10. Opening for Big Sandy (old school rock-n-roll of the highest caliber)

Sept 5: Montpelier, VT. The Lamb Abbey. 8pm. $10

Sept 9: Whately, MA. Watermelon Wednesdays. 7:30pm. $15. With Joy Kills Sorrow--bluegrass instrumentation, modern vibe, stellar singing, killer playing.

Sept 10: Cambridge, MA. Club Passim. 8pm. $12. With Joy Kills Sorrow.

Sept 11: Turner’s Falls, MA. The Rendezvous. 9pm.

Sept 13: Philadelphia, PA. The Tin Angel. 7:30pm. $12 (If you’re planning on coming, please buy your tickets in advance)

Sept 16: Ashland, VA. Ashland Coffee and Tea. $12 advance/$17 door (so get your tickets early!). 8pm.

Sept 19: Knoxville, TN. Barley’s Taproom. 10pm.

Sept 22: Winston-Salem, NC. The Garage. 9pm. With the Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank.

Sept 23: Raleigh, NC. The Berkeley Café. 7pm. $8.

Sept 24: Asheville, NC. Jack of the Wood. 9pm. $5

I hope that we see you somewhere down the road.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Lobsters and Bacon

We're heading to the Pine Tree State right now! (I had to look that up. Who knew that Maine had a lot of pine trees?).

After a rockin' wedding party in northern Maine, we'll be playing in Portland on Sunday (at One Longfellow Square). Then we'll drive back down to the Bay State (Massachusetts, for the uninitiated) for a sweet Cambridge show at Atwood's Tavern. I hear they make a rockin' BLT.

Hope we'll see you at one of those places!


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Don't Mess With WVa

Henry Louis "Junior" Gates,
a scholar from my native state,
was held, despite his great renown,
for "breaking into" his own home.

Gates (who's black, we should be struck)
got to his door and found it stuck,
suspicious passers called the cops,
who rushed right there, a crime to stop.

I know that life can be unfair;
injustice in this world's not rare,
but we, as West Virginians, should
all hope that cop gets chewed out good.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Thanks a Lot!

Chicken Ain't Chicken's for sale at the Ernest Tubb Record Shop! At least the online store. As soon as I get back from this little tour (Green River Festival, ho!) I'm going to search through the stacks at the real shop on Broadway and see if we're in there, too. For some reason, that makes me more excited than seeing us on Amazon or iTunes. I guess it's because I LOVE Ernest Tubb!

If any of you live near Greenfield, MA, check out Green River Festival. It's gonna be awesome!!


Monday, July 13, 2009


Oh, window shade above my bed,
Why did you fall and hit my head,
And wake me up at half past two,
What did I ever do to you?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Toby Keith

I like Toby Keith's music a great deal, but I don't own any of his records. So this morning, when I wanted to play his song "Get My Drink On" for Emily, I went looking on the Youtube. Well apparently Toby never made a video of that one. Luckily these ladies stepped up to the plate.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Unbearable Slowness of Ripening

I picked tomatoes back in June.
I thought the rest would be ripe soon.
But here I sit in mid-July,
With nothing for my pizza-pie.

The Wilders

I've thought about putting the Wilders on here a bunch of times but couldn't find a good youtube video of them. Well, that deficiency has been corrected, cause here they are just KILLIN' IT at the Celtic connections festival.

Monday, July 6, 2009

David Mayfield

I see this guy around town, but I only vaguely knew who he was. This is awesome in too many ways to count.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

More Polka

We haven't had any polka music on the Sweetback Shout in a while. I'll fix that quick.

The accordian player is Jake Zagger, I don't know anybody else's name, but they rock.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Detective Novels

Paperback novels, full of spies,
Policemen, thugs and lawyer guys,
Lowbrow writing, highbrow crooks,
Don't you love detective books?


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Be dazzled!

Bought a Bedazzler today. First project: rhinestone guitar strap. Now I just need one of those hot-fix applicator guns to really get the rhinestone party going.


p.s. I'd love suggestions for exciting bedazzling projects to spruce up our stage attire. Bring on the bedazzling wisdom!

Friday, June 26, 2009

We're on CMT!

Well... we've made it as far as the CMT blog, anway. Craig Shelburne, the official CMT blogger, put us on his "Summer Playlist of New Independent Music." I'm so honored! The song he liked is "They Say Virginia is for Lovers," by Kristin Andreassen (although he-- and lots of other people-- seem to think it's just called "Virginia"). Kristin is an immensely talented songwriter and we feature TWO of her songs on the album. For those who haven't heard "They Say Virginia is for Lovers" yet, I put a little clip on the sales page of our website. Check it out!

With love from 94-degree Nashville. Stay cool!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Don't Try This At Home

Emily and I are going to see Doyle Lawson at the Ryman tonight. Apparently he has a whole new band these days, which is exciting.
Michael Cleveland is also playing:


UPDATE: Michael Cleveland rocked out, in his inimitably adorable way. Doyle Lawson indeed had a new band and also a fancy new suit.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain

Stefan and I will be performing as, the Hen's Teeth Duo at the Hootenany Art House in Park Slope Brooklyn tomorrow morning. I've done this gig once before, and it's just lovely. The owners are amazing, and have fresh cakes off the griddle, real maple syrup, adorable little children, and mimosas for all the parents. Can't Wait!

Since it's a sing-along event I've decided the morning would not be complete without a rousing rendition of "She'll be Coming Round the Mountain." I needed a refresher on the words, and while looking for the lyrics I stumbled across this youtube gem:

Play That Country Accordion!!!
night night.

Friday, June 19, 2009


First of all, thank you thank you thank you to all the wonderful people who came out to our shows last week. And to all of you who supported our endeavors by buying the CD! Wow! Thanks especially to that guy in Thomas, WV who unwittingly bought the very first copy of the album by tossing some money over the fence at me before the show. If you feel like taking his lead and getting your very own Chicken Ain't Chicken, I can hook you up.

Now I'm going to try to do justice to this whirlwind week without surrendering to my inherent wordiness. Here goes nothing...

Day 1: Purple Fiddle.
--Bridget's birthday! Cake for breakfast, cake for dinner, cake for munchies in between.

--My sleeptalking (apparently I relived the whole show in my sleep and periodically said things like, "Thank you all so much for coming out" and "What a great night!")
--late night pool at the Purple Fid
dle hostel with John and other drunk West Virginians. So fun!
Lowlights: Squeaky squeaky bunk beds in the Purple Fiddle hostel.
New best friends: Chris and Ben from Baltimore. Holla! They hit a deer on the way to their camping trip and got stranded at the Purple Fiddle for the night, but claimed that our concert made it all worth it! I think they were just buttering us up for a ride to the auto body shop in Maryland (which we happily provided).

Day 2: M-Room, Philly
--Hezekiah Jones is a really great band. And I don't just say that. They aren't even a COUNTRY band and I love them.
--We got to play with pedal steel for the first time ever! And it was so fun. Thanks, Andy!!
--Ross and Stefan cooked dinner for the band (pasta and poor man's garlic bread), which was totally adorable and
lovely. On the other end of the spectrum from Zara's famous roast chicken, but wonderful in its own right.
The sad part: We drove to NYC after the show and, thus, not only had to drive through New Jersey, but had to do it in the middle of the night, which is triply worse. Quadruply worse. See Jesse's post below for a poetic expression of our feelings for I-95 in NJ. Did you know that in a few short miles you can go from heading north on the turnpike to heading south?!? Without ever even changing lanes?!?!

Day 3: Jalopy

--Robin drew these beautiful pictures at the show! Check out more art at the ukulelechicken blog!
--the new stickers arrived in time for our show. Metallic gold sunrays on vinyl! My brother Ethan drew the pretty picture.
--Geoff and Lynette just rock. They were setting off on a two week sailing adventure the next morning and still presided over the evening with poise and grace.
--Zara riling up the crowd with frequent air punches in honor of the CD release. Now NO show is complete without air punches. Maybe I'll get Z to make an air-punch tutorial video for the blog, because she really has nice technique.
--Zara's entire extended family. Amazing. And so man
y good NYC friends in the audience. Thanks so much for coming out!
--This is going to start to sound repetitive, but we drove to VT after the show, which is now officially my least favorite thing to do. Waa-wah! I guess it could also go in the highlights category, though, because we got to eat lots of Cheetohs and see the sunrise in western MA!

Day 4: Roots on the River
Sweetest crowd ever! So forgiving of our sleep-deprived goofiness. This lovely sampler video gives you a nice sense of how great everyone was. That dancing couple captured my heart!

--Beautiful festival weather and air filled with general festival giddiness. It just makes a girl feel good!
--Massages by Zoe, compliments of Ray!

--Free beer
--Jenee Halstead (owner of an amazing voice, stellar songwriting skills, and extremely stylish boots), Red Molly (bad-ass 3-part harmony singing and hot guitar picking from NYC), and our new label mate Caroline Herring (awesome singer-songwriter from Hot-lanta).
--this Canadian guy was kind enough to show us his Dodge Sprinter, which he had tricked out with a cooch (that's Canadian for couch) and bunks and book racks and everything.'
-Milly and Molly's birthday dinner chez Amidon (Zara's mom and aunt. They're twins. And their names are... you get it They're just as adorable and wonderful as you might imagine given that information).
Lowlights: None! No, wait. We were all pretty disappointed that we missed Junior Brown the night before. He's a hero of ours (featured in previous blog posts). But we DID get to see the remnants of his git-steel birthday cake from the night before. Now that's art!
Favorite new game: Slack-jaw word association. Try it at home, folks! Believe me, the name tells you all you need to know.

Day 5: Cowboy Festival in Ashfield, MA.

-- Nan's amazing cowboy-inspired food (a LOT better than the schlock they eat in Lonesome Dove)
-- Cowboy cutout for classy photos.

--Pony rides! I didn't actually have time to take one, but I lived vicariously through some of the kids while I ate my delicious dinner of cowboy chili.
--Girl Howdy (killer honky-tonk singing and playing) and all the fabulous dancers who tore up the floor during their set (and, luckily for us, stuck around to tear it up a little more during ours). Actually, the girls of GH themselves did some fine floor-tearing at the end of the evening.
Amazing realizations: "Who has the guitar amp? Do you have the guitar amp? Did it ever make it in the car yesterday?" (Answer: no. But everything worked out in the end. Thanks to Ray and Rose Sinclair!)
New best friend: Nan!

OK! That's it for the shows. I've babbled on for long enough! Thanks again to everyone we saw this week. I hope we run into more of you down the road.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Wayne Henderson

The trip home was LOOOOOONG, but since I don't want to spend two consecutive posts whining about driving, and since we spent most of the day in Virginia and since I was trying to explain who Wayne Henderson is the other day, well, here he is:

On the way north last week we stopped at a gas station in VA and they had Wayne's cd's sitting next to George Jones and the usual suspects at the cashier's counter. Cool!

Also, this banjo player is ridiculous. I mean that in a good way, mostly.

And since I'm writing I'll mention that the tour (is it really a tour if it's only five days long?) was awesome, action packed and deserves more thought than I'm willing to give it now.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Turnpike Time

While driving out of Philly late
We got lost in the Garden State

We turned wrong once, and then again,
By which point it was 2 AM

I wish that from the maps they'd strike
This god-forsaken Jersey Pike.


New York!

Got in to Brooklyn this morning around 3. So psyched about the Jalopy show tonight. 9pm. Oh, man. Honky-tonk in Red Hook!

I'm gonna eat some good Chinese food today. I love this city.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Back in good ol' WV

Jesse and I are in Elkins preparing for the rest of the gang's arrival tonight. I'm looking forward to a donated chocolate pudding cake (thanks to Jesse's grandparents!) and some nickel-and-dime poker tonight at our beloved cabin retreat on the Cheat River (thanks to Jesse's parents!).

We're here in West Virginia to kick off the Chicken Ain't Chicken release tour. Wow! I'm extremely excited to hold our CD in our hands and admire its very existence. We owe a million-and-a-half thanks to Jim Olsen at Signature Sounds and our esteemed producer Eric Merrill for getting this thing out of our collective Sweetback living room and (hopefully!) into some other living rooms. Actually, I guess I can be pretty confident that it will get played in at least ONE other living room (right, Mom?). You will be able to get a pre-release copy at any of our shows in the next week [Philly on June 11th; Brooklyn on June 12th; Bellows Falls, VT on June 13th; Ashfield, MA on June 14th], at selected websites (The Sweetback Sisters, Signature Sounds) starting on June 16th, and at a record store near you (or anywhere else on the internet) starting on June 30th.

The first show (!) is tomorrow night at the Purple Fiddle. The show starts at 8:30 pm. In case you've never been to the Purple Fiddle, it's a SWEET restaurant/music venue in the crushingly picturesque town of Thomas, WV. Even if you can't make it on Wednesday (though we'd love love love to see you there) you should try to make it out there sometime. It's worth it. You're guaranteed to see a lot of fiddles that are painted purple. They even sell local brew.

Love from the Mountain State (not to be confused with the GREEN Mountain State-- we'll be there on Saturday)


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Duncan and Brady

NWA was hardly the first band to sing about killing policemen. Why did nobody freak out when the Johnson Mountain Boys did it? Anyway, I've always liked this song.

ps. If I could grow a mustache like that you'd better believe I'd do it.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ebay Fiddle

Fiddle from the intertubes,
I can't believe I purchased you.
Busted neck, ugly cracks,
I think I'd like to throw you back.


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Howdy All!

We're all prepping for the big release and slappin' on the business hat. CDs, Posters, Merch, EPK, Press clips, websites, booking, promotional photos... Why didn't anyone tell me being a band is such hard work? It's like Christmas, but with country music.

Where many of our projects are still in the works I'm happy to announce that the brand new Sweetback Sisters site is up & running! took a lot of very long nights, but I done built us a website! Check it out HERE! Oh and do tell me what you think, we want to keep things user friendly.

Let our devoted readers hear it first that there is an unheard sneak release off the new album Chicken Ain't Chicken up on the photos page."It Don't Show on Me" is finally on disc! So sweet. Be sure to have a tissue handy.

I must be off to dream land, but I was just going through my content check list for the website and sadly our quotes page didn't make it, so, I thought I'd humor you all here:

Word on the Street:
(from reputable and disreputable sources alike!):

"It's the Opry era of living legend Kitty Wells' heyday resurrected, thanks to the harmonies of leading ladies Emily Miller and Zara Bode (whose vocal resume includes work with Amos Lee and Northern Harmony), which shine with an almost theatrical precision."
--Jed Ferris, Charlottesville Daily Progress, 1/5/2007

"There's something not quite genuine about you two."
-- Garrison Keillor as Guy Noir
St. Paul, MN

"Can I look at your fingers? I think they're on fire."
-- a fan to Ross in the hotel lobby after the APHC show
St. Paul, MN

"I wanna buy you a STEAK!"
-- drunk soldier to Zara
Johnson City, TN

"Look at her! She's got plenty of it."
-- some guy to another guy (in reference to Emily)
Cincinnati, OH

Sweet dreams cowdudes and ladies!


Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Song That Never Ends

Posted Without Comment.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sock it to me

There are days I go without singing. No music either. I sometimes go as far as a whole day without talking. It's not a choice, just distracted loneliness and happenstance. But when I'm on stage, or even just in a living room making music with friends... I can't image a second without the sweet sound of music. And that obsession can carry on through my days. Times when I hear a melody on the car radios idling outside my window, or a terribly cheesy song at the laundromat and I still can't help but harmonize, loudly.

There's something so utterly satisfying in snuggling myself between the notes I hear. It's the joy of accompaniment, camaraderie, and only one of the reasons I love Emily Miller so darn much. Harmony is like a big 'ol musical hug.

If you have a 1/2 hour to spare today, here's a BBC radiocast of "R.E.S.P.E.C.T - The Art of Backing Vocals." It was really lovely to listen to, with various tricks of the trade, and a nice shout out to country music. CLICK HERE

I've always wanted to be a professional backup singer. If not for the music, then definitely for the outfits. I hope there's still time for that.


Friday, May 22, 2009


Of all known parcel services,
United is the wretchedest.
Their driver says I don't exist,
and won't deliver packages.

The office, open after two
(not until two? can that be true?)
Is staffed with friendly ladies who
declare my check will not go through.

They won't take cash, won't take credit,
neither check nor gold* nor debit.
Money order is, they say,
the only way that I can pay.

I begged them, but to no avail.
I pleaded, but my pleadings failed,
So, as a witch might wield a curse,
I'll place a pox on them in verse.

May their trucks dissolve in rust,
may their financiers go bust.
May their stock price crash and fall,
and may their creditors come to call.

May insurance frauds and cheats
write red across their balance sheets,
and may fate forestall these ravages
until I've retrieved my packages.

*I didn't actually offer them gold, but I'm pretty sure they don't accept it. On the other hand who knows, I mean money orders? really?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys

Among other notables in this edition of the Bluegrass Boys are Gordon Terry, who still looks like Eric Merrill, and native West Virginian Charlie Cline who is reputed to be the only Bluegrass Boy who played every instrument in the band at some time or other (except of course mandolin.) Playing the banjo here.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Release of the Release

Hey Y'all...

As you may have heard The Sweetback Sisters have a mighty fine CD entitled "Chicken Ain't Chicken" coming just over that June horizon. This thing has been a long time comin' so I think it's best we start getting the word out on the CD Release Party dates don't you agree? This poster is the first view of our upcoming summer shows (click for larger view.) More dates will be added as we acquire them, but this might be it for the summer so please help spread the word!

If you'd like to help us book some shows for our extended tour in September please don't be shy! Send a howdy to us @

Xo Zara

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hey, it's something...

Sure, it's practically a blank slate, but The Sweetback Sisters are on the radar, so I thought I would share! Baby steps right?

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Two Man Gentleman Band

These guys are amazing.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Good News

So, while I'm thinking of it, allow me to mention that I have it on good authority that the new CD went to the printers a day or two ago.

the Osborne Brothers

Some of us are born normal and get weird as we age, some of us are born weird and then mellow. The Osborne Brothers, (and make no mistake, I LOVE the Osborne Brothers) were weird when they started and they stayed weird all the way through. I really couldn't pick which of these two versions of "Ruby" to put on here, so I'll put them both. I think Bobby is aging in reverse, as he looks younger and sings higher in the later video. Meanwhile Sonny, who was six years younger but always looked older, is playing stuff that nobody else could get away with and makes it sound great. Make sure you listen to the end to get the full Osborne experience.

Friday, May 15, 2009

the Hillbilly Gypsies

A great latter-day stringband from Morgantown, WV.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Gritty Small Town Realism*

Take me to GoMart, I'm already wasted, and
the bouncer at Beander's wants five bucks at the door.
No way am I paying to go hear a DJ,
we can crank up our radio in front of the store.

Take me to GoMart, we might see those girls there,
the ones we saw Friday, and the weekend before.
The new cashier's hot, but I don't think she likes me,
since I dropped a full bottle of beer on the floor.

I paid for the beer, but she still acted hateful,
I'm guessing that cleanup is one of her chores.
So I'm not going in, I'll just stand by the car and say
"got any weed man? I'm trying to score."


*This title is designed to convey to my more sophisticated readers that this is in no way autobiographical and should be regarded as a sort of literary exercise, a character sketch, perhaps. My less sophisticated readers are free to believe what they want.

Friday, May 8, 2009

More Dancing Fiddlers

This time it's Mac Magaha playing in Porter Wagoner's band.

And what the heck, let's throw in some electric banjo:

Mac Magaha actually sounds best playing slow double-stop type country songs, but he doesn't dance around quite so much when he does that. He spent a number of years playing with Reno and Smiley and added a lot to their sound.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Speaking of dancing fiddlers

Clark Kessinger was a house painter from St. Albans, WV, and one of the greatest fiddlers of his generation.

He made commercial recordings with his brother Luches during the 20s, and was "rediscovered" during the great folk scare of the 1960s. It was during this later period that he recorded his best work (in my opinion.) Here he is with Gene Mead on guitar and Gene Parker (I think!) on banjo.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Freeborn Man

Another day shall not pass without the appearance of Jimmy Martin on the Sweetback Sisters blog.

Jimmy Martin scowls and growls, Vernon Derrick dances like a fool and the band executes a daring manual fade-out ending.


ps. I just noticed that this is the set with the carousel that Merle Haggard was standing on while singing "Mama Tried."

Weekend Excursion

On Friday night we sallied forth
and drove four hours to the north
to Cincinnati where we stayed
with Emily, Nelly and monsieur Dave.

Saturday we embarked again
and ended up at Oberlin.
That night we played and earned some loot
and then went to a photo shoot.

A music barn, just right for jamming
equipped with several B-3 Hammonds.
We played some tunes, and pics were shot
and then we sat and drank fine scotch.

On Sunday, at the crack of noon,
we packed up cars and cleared out rooms.
We said goodbye, and just at dark
arrived back home in Sylvan Park.


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Hello Oberlin! Are you ready to ROCK!!!


7pm, be there. New dresses.

Friday, May 1, 2009

I miss my wifes cooking (whenever I can)

Homer and Jethro were brilliant musicians with a long list of accomplishments. They toured with Spike Jones, worked as a house band at King records, made Kellogs Corn Flakes commercials and are credited with introducing young Nashville players to a lot of jazz influence. Of course they are mostly remembered for corny comedy songs like this:


Thursday, April 30, 2009

My New Favorite Band

That's right folks, I have a NEW favorite band, or at least a new favorite solo artist.

Jersey Polka Richie:

I can't seem to find where his upcoming performances are, so if anybody knows, help me out. Western PA, where this recorded, isn't so far from Elkins, so I'm thinking if I keep my eyes open I may get the chance.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

the Quebe Sisters

Our pal Nora Jane sent us this video, prompting Emily to wonder "why haven't I ever heard of these kids?"
Couldn't have said it better myself.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Dim Lights, Thick Smoke

Speaking of weird double neck guitars, here's Joe Maphis and Rose Lee, with Gordon Terry (who looks just like Eric Merrill) on the fiddle. I love the way the guitar and drums groove during the guitar solo. The only way this could be made better would be to add Curly Seckler's weird flat7 harmony part.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Two Man Gentleman Band

If you haven't ever seen the Two Man Gentleman Band perform, you should make it a priority to do so. In the meantime, go read their blog, which is nearly as entertaining as the live experience.

Wilma Lee Cooper

Wilma Lee Cooper was from Valley Head, WV, about 20 miles south of my hometown, and her husband Stoney (with the fiddle) was from Harman, 20 miles to the east. Their daughter Carol Lee leads the backup singers on the Grand Ole Opry now. They had another song called "the West Virginia Polka" which is high on my list of things to learn.

In this video they employ the popular technique of cutting to the electric guitar when the banjo player takes a solo.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Today I planted corn and beans
Turned the ground and scattered seeds
Sprinkled dirt on top again
Licked my chops and watched for rain.

I haven't figured out how they grow sausage yet.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Junior Brown

I managed to stumble upon the genius of Junior Brown recently. The man is a MONSTER guitar player, but with a twist. He builds his own instruments, which is a one-bodied hybrid of a telecaster on top, and then a lap steel on the bottom! The lap steel is angled ever-so-slightly upward so he can play both and not hurt himself. The whole thing rests on a stand and he has his feet controlling his volume for all the lovely swells on the lap. After discovering this madman, I was pleased to be informed by Emmy that we'll BOTH be playing at the Roots on the River Festival! Yikes! Plus, i've reportedly heard that between sets, him and his wife (who plays acoustic in the band) have been known to go out on the street and preach the word of the lord. Hallelujah.

I want to suggest this song to add to the Sweetback repetoire, however i don't know who would sing it. Stefan? You're voice can do that, right?

1:19 is particularly note-worthy.

-Little Rolling Thunder

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Swing it!

Swing fiddle legend Buddy Spicher is playing at the 5-spot in Nashville tonight. Yes, that's same dive bar where I saw Wanda Jackson play a few months ago. What is it with all these famous people playing at tiny, smokey bars in this town? Maybe they want to relive the happy days of their youths when they played for tips and drunk guys requested the Orange Blossom special every half hour.

For those of you who don't live in middle Tennessee, here's a snippet of ol' Buddy for you:


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Saturday afternoon developments

Several positive things happened today. First, Jesse planted zucchini and brussel sprouts in the garden. Second, I ate extraordinarily delicious ribs. Third, Charlie Louvin told me that I have a commanding pair of eyes. That's right folks, today I met one of my first and biggest musical influences, the great Charlie Louvin.

Jesse and I went down to the annual Record Store Day festivities at Grimey's here in Nashville. Charlie Louvin and Del McCoury both played fabulous sets. Charlie's voice has certainly suffered from his years of smoking and the tenor singer he's using is no Ira Louvin. Even so, he still has killer phrasing and puts on a great show. I went up to him after his set and had him sign a CD. I told him that one of the first songs I learned to sing was "When I Stop Dreaming." He looked up at me then said, "You have a commanding pair of eyes." That was it. I thanked him and went back to my spot in front of the stage. When I told Jesse, he said proudly, "Awww! Charlie Louvin's hitting on my girlfriend."

Del's set was also a treat. He can still sing as well as ever. Plus, he has really beautiful teeth. So straight. So white.

I love Nashville!


Charlie Louvin now...

...and then

Del and the boys:

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Great Duets

The Johnson Mountain Boys:
Eddie Stubbs, the fiddler, is currently the announcer on WSM here in Nashville. Tom Adams is one of my favorite banjo players. But the real show here is Dudley Connell and David McLaughlin's perfect phrasing.

Don Rich and some dude:
The guy standing to Don Rich's left is called Buck Owens. Apparently he's famous. Telecaster heaven.

Cousin Jake & Uncle Josh:
Flatt and Scruggs had so much talent in their band that these guys acted as a band within a band. Great singing, bad joke at the end.

I have to admit, I love Jake's delivery though.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Three Flavors of Country Music



Sublimely Ridiculous:

Now that's Dancing!