Rachel MacLean-Sargent, Sarah's identical twin sister, has joined the CarLeans on a full-time basis! Despite having four small children, Rachel has managed to be present on nearly all the tours and local appearances since the beginning of 2018. Needless to say, the twins harmonies are breathtaking and Rach's presence on and off stage is much welcomed. She is an accomplished singer-songwriter in her own right, and her songs have been featured on many CarLeans' projects.
A Word From Jim
I befriended the twins (Sarah and Rachel) when I produced their MacLeans Sisters record. It took quite a while to tell them apart and a long time after that to get their names right when I'd had a few. They got my music and what I was trying to do . . . which was enlightening coming from twenty-something year-olds at the time. However, they are extremely well-versed in well-written music — albeit country, pop, rock, gospel or show tunes — which was complimentary as well.
Their first efforts at songwriting were some of the most amazing songs I'd heard. Beyond the 'Other Side of Loving Me' cd, they hadn't produced enough material for a full night of music (and they needed a guitar player), so we joined forces. Along with Corina Malbaurn on upright bass, we hit it pretty hard and managed to commence touring at a reasonable pace (I had a son in high school, Sarah a daughter in grade school, and Rachel would eventually have four baby boys).
We set off in rented vans, playing as distant destinations as Austin TX, Key West FL and Burlington ME. Aside from the doghouse bass, we travel light with a Bose stick, a couple Martin and Gibson guitars and a bag of 'shaky things'. We get on fine together, though as the only male in the group, it can be lessons in humility! They have become my best friends and I can't imagine touring, or my life, without them.
I write a lot of fiction . . . southern fiction, inspired by transient childhood in Virginia and Florida, as well as my favorite writers: Welty, O'Connor, Crews, Nordan and Faulkner. Even my lyrics have often been described as literary and southern. I suppose that's true, and to make story songs even more challenging to write, I am an internal rhyme freak.
My voice, once booming and clear for a then small person, has become airy, dark and raspy . . . 'like Johnny Cash at the very end' one magazine critic once declared as compliment or insult, it was hard to tell. I contribute the vocal restriction as a result of growing into my introversion instead of transcending it. I was always uncomfortable on stage as a soloist and content to support a stellar vocalist(s) willing to convey my songs . . . though I find myself singing more than often due to gender restrictions in the narrative.
The identical twins, as one would imagine, have that unique and beautiful sibling harmony. And they are beautiful . . . and as expected, can communicate silently on that magical level as only twins can do. They are both becoming fine rhythm guitarists despite the litany of profanities that can accommodate picking up the instruments. Sarah has a soulful voice that can convey R&B as well as folk music. She often elicits applause with her soaring vocal crescendos. Rachel's voice is as soulful, if darker, softer and emotional.
I can approach the acoustic guitar as a percussive instrument . . . managing to maintain a thumping rhythm, insert lead parts and cover the bass lines at the same time. While I've been told this is interesting to watch and hear (a style that evolved from too much time alone while wanting to convey the parts I heard in my head) it can be distracting to bass players.
Corina is probably the most accomplished professional musician in the group. She's been to music college and spent time on the road with other bands. She accepts and compliments my unique guitar style, and together, we often provoke people from their seats to twist around a bit. This pleases us all greatly and will often inspire the twins to jump offstage to participate.
We're keeping the plates spinning these days. The CarLeans have three records, hard drives full of awkward videos (and a couple good ones), and a devout small following of wonderful folks, dancers, artists and fellow musicians. We'd like an agent to help us book, but we also like to be able to come and go as we please and frequent the places and venues where we feel we belong. Our tours are interspersed with days off for beaching, pinball, breweries, resting and working (all of our day jobs allow us to work on the road, though four iMacs in the van is becoming burdensome). We're not afraid to try anything once. We once practically shut down an Irish bar in Charleston who made the mistake of looking at three young women, estimating how much whiskey they could possibly drink, then agreeing to 'all you can drink for free''. We don't play the obvious cover songs (hopefully nothing you'll recognize) . . . and we're able to play a four-hour gig without repeating a single original. Which is probably bragging, but so was the whiskey.
That's my story. I hope you'll listen to the music and like it enough to want to experience it live somewhere soon. I don't think you'll be sorry.
The CarLeans are writing, arranging and rehearsing new songs for an upcoming album scheduled to be released in the summer of 2020.
The band will begin recording in the fall following a South Carolina tour. A February southeastern tour is scheduled beginning at Daryl's House in New York, than on to Nashville, Knoxville, Asheville and on to Florida. Plans are also in the works for another Texas/Louisiana tour later in 2020 . . . anchored in our favorite town, New Braunfels.
House Concert Tonight! (sold out)
The CarLeans love to do house concerts. Please contact us for a private performance at your house, barn, venue. Sorry, tonight's house performance in Westerly, RI is sold out.
Charleston in December Tour
The CARLEANS are off for Charleston SC this Wednesday, Dec 4. Playing some of our favorite haunts, we are thrilled to see some of our dear southern friends and eat some amazing food. While there, Sarah and Corina will be running a 5K benefit. They've been in training. Jim will be driving the support vehicle. Big thanks to John and Anne Marie for putting us up as well as putting up with us. They've generously hosted The CarLeans for many years now.