Sometimes the best way to re-charge one's creative energy is to dive into some divergent pursuits. The Sweetback Sisters took 2015 as a bit of a step-back year, a chance to take collective deep breaths and unwind from the touring grind.
The self-described "renegade retro band" – who will be performing tonight at Next Stage in Putney - spent the past decade working hard to serve up their energetic blend of country, swing and honky-tonk to audiences near and far. According to co-frontwoman, Zara Bode it was both exhausting and exhilarating. "We've had some really fun times over the years: wild nights in Nashville, late night old time jams, some supreme audience heckling, but I'd say my favorite moments have been when we're deep in the true country scene. A few times we've gotten to play a Cowboy and Poetry festival in Herber City, Utah. Yes, that's a real thing! It was filled to the brim with Cowboys dressed to the nines. More handlebar mustaches than you could swing a boot at."
So, what were The Sweetbacks up to when not singing, stringing and Western-swinging? "Well, we've been cooling our heels the last year as we attend to our families and other projects" recalled Bode. "Emily (Miller, the other frontwoman) teaches at Davis & Elkins College in West Virginia, Stefan (Amidon) has recently joined the ranks as the drummer for The Devil Makes Three, and while he tours I've been enjoying mama life and continuing to work writing songs for a children's company in New York City when I find a moment. Those are few and far between when you have a one year old."
The temporary respite from the road recently ended and the group found itself raring to go. "We are just starting to play again after many months off the road." added the invigorated singer. "Last month we had a few shows in New England where I was hoping to dust off the cobwebs, but instead we came barreling in! New tunes, new stories, and all the old songs were there just ready to be played again. It was such a treat. I sure missed my Sweetback family!"
The new energy and new songs has Bode and the team considering a return to the recording as well. "I can finally say with all sincerity that we are currently in the works on our next record! I cannot wait to get back in the studio, breathe some life into some old songs and create new ones. Nothing fuels motivation like upcoming studio time."
The Sweetback Sisters may have formed in Brooklyn but they consider their true home to be Southern Vermont. And nothing energizes them more that a hometown hootenanny. "We have always considered Brattleboro a home base for the band many of us have had the honor of calling it home" said Bode. "Our shows here are always a blast. There's nothing like the performing for friends and family. Although we're curious as to whether we've collected some new fans after the success of our Christmas show here in Brattleboro this year. The hope is they enjoyed our rendition of 'Dominick the Christmas Donkey' and felt inexplicably compelled to see what we do the rest of the year."
Much of 2016 will be spent on the road which is perfectly fine with Bode and her buddies. "We'll be back in the saddle and hopefully in the swing of touring life. As you may know, a 'Sweetback' is someone who prefers the vagrant life, and it's true that we are always happier on the move."
Next Stage Arts and Twilight Music Presents: The Sweetback Sisters, tonight at 7:30 p.m., 15 Kimball Hill Rd Putney $20 advance / $22 door 802 387–0102 http://nextstagearts.org