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Singer Sarah Blacker journeys to Scituate in midst of music success

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  June 20, 2013 12:36 PM

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For "Female Performer of the Year" Sarah Blacker, 2012 was a whirlwind.

In addition to the New England Music Award win, Blacker has received numerous recognitions: airtime on NPR, awards for her music video, and nomination for a 2012 Boston Music Award.

Not to mention a feature on the MTV show Jersey Shore, performing with the likes of Sara Bareilles, and being named the winner of the Radio 92.9/Boch Subaru contest in 2010. Yet for the singer/songwriter, the most recent focus has been on the release of her third album.

Days before a performance at Radio Music Hall in Scituate, Blacker took a moment to reflect, always with an eye on what’s ahead.

Boston Globe: The last three years for you have been a whirlwind; what did it take to get to this point?

Sarah Blacker: I started out just by recording a CD. I was told you don’t have anything until you have a CD. So I made one, and from there I did a pretty heavy publicity campaign behind the first record and started touring the deep South and the East Coast and plugging away at the same markets on a regular basis

My favorite thing to do is perform, so most of what I’ve gotten from have come from live gigs…

It’s meeting people and building relationships with people in the industry who I enjoy having relationships with. It’s making friends -- I feel that’s an important part of building a career. And building a team

One of the first things that happened that helped me a lot was the Subaru competition. … Ernie Boch called me at 7 a.m., and all through New England my face and name was blasted on TV and radio a hundred times a day …

[It’s] just through meeting people, playing gigs, and putting out records, and trying to reach out to people on a human level, through social media or face-to-face and meeting people throughout the music scene.

BG: Every time you win another accolade or are featured in another way, does it surprise you? Like being featured on Jersey Shore?

SB: That was insane! I was out at a bar with friends, and another friend said I just heard your song on Jersey Shore. It was really surreal.

It’s incredible. I call them small victories. In an industry that can be discouraging for artists it’s incredible to have these little victories to build off of. It keeps you going …

I’m blown away and flattered [by it all]. I never expected any of this. To be considered in any way notable in New England, it’s pretty cool. There is so much talent here, so many incredible artists here.

BG: Talk to me a bit about your most recent album, Precious Little Things – how is it different from your first two?

SB: It represents my band, the people I’ve been playing with for the past two years. We know each other very well musically and recorded it pretty quickly.

It has a sort of live feel, but it’s my third album working with Sean McLaughlin. We know each other inside and out and I can say him colors and hand gestures and he knows what I’m talking about

I think it has the most consistent sonic picture out of any of the albums. We knew what we wanted it to sound like. I had an idea for the first, and more with the second … but [with this album, I said] these were my influences, and let's do it

We were experimental with microphone techniques. Sean would do things like putting a microphone into a PVC pipe or mic a wooden wall next to a wooden instrument. There is a lot of textural layers to this record. It’s fun to have a more lush sound to each song.

BG: What was the process of creating this most recent album? You mentioned recording techniques, but writing songs?

SB: Typically I’m ready and I already have the songs ... songs I’ve written over the past year. I put out an EP before this album, and some songs were on that EP but I wanted to record them with full band arrangements …

That as well as there is one single that WUVB has been spinning, called Shiver, and I wrote that after coming back from … [a] folk festival. I wanted to write a song that was about the process of moving paths, but I also wanted it to be a song people could sing. I designed the chorus with a lot of harmonies, which I like to do … but this was a straight up pop folk tune, and it’s been the favorite of people so far, so I think that has contributed to the likeability of it as well.

BG: What will you be performing from for your upcoming Scituate concert?

SB: We’ll be doing the whole new album as well as a combo of songs from the other album and a couple new covers as well. We have a good long set and a great opener, Sam Chase, and we’re going to do a band set and actually it will be my band as well as I’m performing with a new upright player, and we have a couple special guests. It will be fun, a rotating cast type of night.

BG: River Club is a smaller venue; which type of atmosphere do you enjoy performing in more – large or small venues?

SB: This room I think has the capacity of 400; it's bigger, a sit-down venue. They set it up for 300. But my favorite shows are typically intimate listening crowd.

I’ve done the bar thing and part of me likes it because it’s a challenge to wrangle an audience, but I really enjoy a communal listening room where not only is it quiet enough to interact, but you can see people’s faces and what they might need. I like to tell stories and talk to audience members, I enjoy the small intimidate rooms.

Sarah Blacker will perform June 21 at 8 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit
http://www.theriverclubmusichall.com/live/

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