Swear and Shake
For a moment the room is silent, hanging on to a heart-wrenching ballad. Then, in just a few chords the crowd is swept back on their feet again, dancing, smiling, and getting lost in the energy emanating from this dynamic band. Kari Spieler’s voice, rich in tone and powerful in delivery, weaves through her and Adam McHeffey’s collaborative songwriting and guitar playing. Shaun Savage’s creative output on the electric bass (and often three-part harmony) makes the partnership of story and sound complete. Collectively these artists, known as Swear and Shake, bring an experience to the stage—a combination of truthful lyrics, passionate performance, and a warming narrative.
–Christina Morelli, The CEO Artist
After circulating a bedroom demo of their first song, "Johnnie," Swear and Shake began their adventures of fiercely writing songs and playing them out anywhere they could. The Brooklyn-based band released their first LP, Maple Ridge, on their own independent label, Pots and Pans. This release quickly garnered the support of independent blogs, YouTube cover artists, and show-goers across the country. In the next few years of touring, Swear and Shake crafted a dynamic full-band show, leading to reviews such as this one from The Blue Indian, in Macon, GA:
“I’ve only seen a few artists bring a room to a hush, only to have their audience hooping and hollering moments later, and these four talented Yankees have joyfully mastered their ability to do so. By the end of the first song, we were out of our seats and upfront. Strangers instantly became neighbors as the entire venue was swept up in the action.”
–Sean Pritchard, The Blue Indian
The Move to Nashville
After years of touring, the band packed up their Brooklyn apartments and headed for Nashville, Tennesse. When asked about this relocation in an interview for Nashville Lifestyles Magazine, Kari Spieler answers "You'd leave for tour and then come back to your part-time job at Anthropologie... Oh, my God—it was horrible. I'd literally be picking pants off the floor and people would recognize me from playing Bowery Ballroom the night before." Spieler sings of this particular experience in "Blouses," one of the first songs written for the new LP.
In the same interview, Adam McHeffey adds: "At the time, we told people we were leaving New York because the cost of living, and since we were touring so much it didn't make sense to keep our NY apartments. In truth, we had a lot to work through, both personally and professionally with our music. The city was an easy scapegoat." The move ended up being a much-needed spiritual uplift for the band, even if it came about in an unexpected way. "We let go of a lot baggage," Adam McHeffey says. "...'The Sound of Letting Go' is one giant exhale, and Nashville let us get it out."
"This album is one giant exhale, and Nashville let us get it out."
– Adam McHeffey
The Sound of Letting Go
Nashville represented change for the band, and enabled them to write their second full-length record, The Sound of Letting Go. During the writing process, the band was heavily influenced by the intricate marriage of band and orchestral arrangements found in baroque pop (think: Beach Boys - Pet Sounds, or The Zombies - Odessey and Oracle) and discovered Richmond-based production house Spacebomb (Natalie Prass, Matthew E. White, Julien Baker) to help realize their musical ambitions.
Funded by the overwhelming support of their fans and friends on PledgeMusic to create a 10 track LP (13 track deluxe, TBA) that speaks to the bands experiences of being on tour, and growing as an independent artist. Swear and Shake has slated this new release for spring 2017.
In Support of...
The powerful presence of Swear and Shake has landed them shows directly supporting a number of notable acts, including The Lumineers, Ingrid Michaelson, American Authors, G. Love and Special Sauce, ZZ Ward, Delta Rae, and many more.
Caroline Rose I Will Not Be Afraid
Sometimes epic failures produce epic results. With the release of her new album I Will Not Be Afraid, keen-eyed young singer-songwriter Caroline Rose has broken her long string of short-circuits with a live-wire national debut that draws on her roots in rockabilly, vintage country and blues to capture her unique and personal vision.
Hoping to escape the dead ends that befell her hometown, colloquially dubbed a stop on "heroin highway", Rose found her way out via a full ride to a small liberal arts college, where she failed as a scholar, barely scraping by to graduation. Next came a stint as a failed hippie, working on and leaving an organic farm. She then bought a vintage sports car to travel the country, but it quickly broke down. On the plus side, Rose got a job at a cider distillery, where she got to taste apple brandy and applejack all day...Followed by a stint stocking shelves and sweeping floors at a grocery store for a boss who eventually fired her.
“That was the last straw,” Rose recounts. “I don't like most bosses and most bosses don't like me. I don't like most professors and most professors don't like me. So here I am. I've made my own way on my own terms and it's destiny knocking on my door. BAM!”
She describes the 11 songs on I Will Not Be Afraid as “postcards I’ve picked up from along the road,” and she means that literally. Rose is in perpetual motion. She tours and lives in her van, traveling the highways and back roads to fuel her creative spirit.
Rose’s wanderlust has taken the 24-year-old from her birthplace in a not-so-idyllic small Northeastern town to every corner of the nation, where she’s made friendships, heard stories and had experiences that she’s fashioned into songs like “America Religious,” which uses a driving snare drum with brushes and psychedelic folk fiddle to underpin the cool waterfall of her peaches and molasses voice as she sings about the open skies and the storm clouds inside the American heart. And in her own.
The themes of some of Rose’s songs are drawn from the familiar. “Blood On Your Bootheels,” which opens I Will Not Be Afraid with her prickly guitar and crazy-carnival organ, was inspired by the Trayvon Martin slaying and Rose’s own passionate reaction to violence and intolerance. "Everyone seems to have their opinions about how to live free in this country, especially when it comes to young men and even more especially when it comes to young black men like Trayvon," Rose observes. Injustice and hardship also underline “Tightrope Walker,” a song inspired by a friend’s stories about working in the school system of an impoverished Mississippi town.
But other songs literally haunt her dreams. The gorgeous textural arrangement and lyrics of “When You Go” — which evoke the openness of both the Southwest and of the future in Rose’s and co-producer Jer Coons’ shimmering guitars and her strong, defiant vocal performance — tumbled out during a night’s rest. “Sometimes songs come to me while I’m asleep and they wake me up, and that’s the best time for me to write,” Rose relates. “When I wake up my mind is like a clear glass of water. I can see everything and capture it.” That’s especially apt for the stream of consciousness lyrics that bring many of her numbers to life.
Rose’s own life seems more akin to Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. Growing up in a coastal town, her parents — who were visual artists with a love for travel — gave Rose a restless, creative spirit. And like many working class seaside locales, her hometown suffers epidemic heroin abuse.
"I saw a lot of my friends get consumed by it, but I was one of the people that got out,” Rose says. “I worked my ass off to go to college and that really was my only plan of escape at that point. I think I was in denial about being an artist.”
For two of those years Rose worked on the aforementioned farm, hoping the experience would provide her with balance and direction. “I liked the work, but I’m too city to be country and too country to be city,” she offers. “So I moved on.” When Rose worked at a cider distillery, she slept in the barn loft where she recorded many of the demos for I Will Not Be Afraid with her acoustic guitar.
“I finally accepted the idea that writing, singing and playing songs is the only thing I’ve ever really been good at,” Rose relates, “so I decided to forget about everything else and live in my car, and I hit the road.”
Rose joined a new generation of touring songwriters who blend tradition, innovation and edginess, like Hayes Carll, whom she opened for in 2014 and bandmember Jer Coons, whom Rose shared a bill with one night and discovered to be a kindred spirit. Rose produced I Will Not Be Afraid with co-production by Coons at his Burlington, Vermont studio, where they also made Rose’s 2013 self-released America Religious, playing all the guitars, keyboards, harmonica, mandolin, drums and percussion themselves.
Rose explains that the title track is her mantra. “So many people are held back by fear,” she says. “They wish they could do something else with their lives, and they just can’t take the first step. I grew up questioning everything and learned that I needed to be on my own. I needed freedom and I needed to create on my own terms and to keep moving forward without fear, wherever I go.
“I also came to understand that I don’t have any choice,” she continues. “Music is what keeps me breathing. I can’t do anything else.”