Something I enjoy is seeing budding country performers.
This afternoon my girlfriend and I went to see an intimate performance on the back roads of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. We drove just a few miles through the winding county highways, past a few apple orchards until we reached Autumn Harvest Winery.
Sarah Lou Richards was the performer. The winery had her come to play a 3-hour set. She had her stool setup on the back porch. People came and sat all around on the patio tables and even in their own lawn chairs. It was a really cool setting on a beautiful Wisconsin Fall day.
Judging from the reactions in the crowd it was easy to see people were impressed. Sarah Lou had the charisma and the songs to keep everybody’s attention and there just might be a future for her in the country music world.
Sarah Lou Richards in 2011
First impressions of Sarah Lou Richards were positive.
My girlfriend and I strolled up the gravel driveway just a few minutes after 2pm this afternoon. Sarah Lou was already starting in on her first songs of the performance. Quickly we grabbed a few apple ciders from inside the little store at the orchard and winery and headed out to grab a spot to sit.
The day was comfortable for a Wisconsin Summer. It was hot in the sun after about five minutes, but pleasant in the shade. Sarah Lou was on the back porch sitting on a stool with her guitar and one amplifier. It was an intimate setting and I think everyone really enjoyed it.
Sarah’s style is rustic and down home. She has a little rasp in her voice and the country quality is there as well. After reading her official bio it turns out she was born in Wisconsin, not far from here in Chippewa Falls. When she was nine she moved out to Connecticut. She came back for a turn in college at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire (my alma mater as well).
For the last four years or so she’s been down in Nashville working as a bartender and waitress all while writing songs, doing a little recording, and playing shows. She released her first full length album last year and I think she said it was produced by Henry Paul of Blackhawk – one of my favorite bands. It was either produced by Henry Paul or by Henry Paul’s son. I didn’t quite catch the details, but either way that’s a good pedigree to have on the record.
Sarah’s original songs were similar to her style – passionate with a little fun and even some heart ache mixed in. She quipped that she was playing for her friend’s wedding recently and had a tough time with the song selection. She said most of her songs are about heart ache and there was no way she’d sing those at a wedding.
Mixed in were a few covers including one from Adele and even Trisha Yearwood.
It was a good mix of songs and the crowd seemed to like it.
Songwriting and Touring
Just one quick note on Sarah’s career so far. I don’t know too much about it, but I thought it was interesting that she’s up in the Midwest on doing a few shows. The intimate setting of this show was really unique and I quite enjoyed it. It was nice to actually sit on the back porch and hear some live music. The people all had smiles on their faces and the music really set a good, comfortable mood.
I think it’s a neat way to go about slowly growing a fanbase to hit the road in her Jeep and play the small gigs. She was just in a larger setting over in the Twin Cities. I’m sure she got a good reaction there as well.
It’s interesting to hear the stories of the artists hitting the road with nothing but their guitar and songs. It’s gotta be an inspiring life especially for a young songwriter.
Sarah Lou Richards’ Future in Country Music
There’s an organic sound to Sarah’s music. She could have something in the country world in the future. She’s got a unique sound and people these days seem to appreciate that wholesomeness from their favorite artists.
It’ll be interesting to see if a major label latches on to Sarah and really promotes her in the mainstream. She’s already accomplished more than most with her full length album produced by a great name in Nashville.
Hopefully we here more of Sarah Lou in the future. She said she nearly missed out on being on the next version of The Voice with Blake Shelton and the gang. That would have been really neat to see. Maybe the next time around.
And I can’t forget to mention that it appeared there was some family in the crowd. Sarah thanked her dad for inspiring her into the music world. She thanked her dad and brother both for helping her produce and record a few tracks down in Iowa for her first short-length record a few years ago. It led to her fuller album down the road.
It was fun to see such a proud dad in the audience.
Bonus: Darling Marissa by Sarah Lou Richards
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Official Site: Sarah Lou Richards
Facebook: Sarah Lou Richards Music