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Swear And Shake
Raucous indie folk, reinvented by Long Island purists
by: Devon Antonetti - October 9, 2012


Frontwoman Kari Spieler has a soulful bedroom drone that fits perfectly between the strumming banjo in her band Swear and Shake. Speiler started the folk-tinged band in 2010 after performing on the demos of her bandmate and fellow vocalist Adam McHeffey. Swear and Shake, which also features Shaun Savage on bass and Thomas Elefante on drums, released their debut LP titled 'Maple Ridge' in late 2011 releasing the final product earlier this year. The album came after a successful Kickstarter campaign raised $5,500 for the recording, some $750 over their goal amount. The album was eventually recorded inside of a barn and former B&B in Cambridge, New York, which penetrates each song with an Americana magnetism and fervent charm. The band continues to tour the East Coast and Midwest, channeling the energy of their barn-made album into their energetic live shows.

Do any of you guys com from music families?

We all grew up listening to lots of different things. Kari (Spieler, vocals and guitar) is heavily influenced by soul and powerful woman singers. Tom (Elefante, drums) and Shaun (Savage, bass) are heavily influenced by Motown, and Adam (McHeffey, vocals and guitar) listened to a lot of traditional folk tunes.

Were you guys 'surprised' by the support from Kickstarter, getting more than your goal? Would you use it again?

Adam: We were absolutely thrilled when it happened, but it's a strange thing to be indentured to your fans after they've funded your record. Still, they gave us more than we needed to see out our vision, and for that we're extremely thankful.

What was the experience like recording "Maple Ridge" in a barn? Both mentally and in your sound, it seems like the barn for was an ideal setting to come together for your music.

Adam: It's true. Having the right workspace is everything. The barn was set away from people and just allowed us to work freely without watching a clock. Aside from that, it also sounded amazing. The drums on the record remind me every time what it sounded like in that space. It was inspiring. It sparked some ideas I don't think we would have had in any other setting.

Having shared bills with Levon Helm, Weezer, and Edward Sharpe, were there any artists that you've played alongside that have had a particular impact on you? What moments stand out as a band and music fans?

Adam: For me, there is one really obvious one. Watching the Avett Brothers from backstage at Mountain Jam VI was amazing. When I heard them perform "Yardsale" I knew I had to buy a banjo. It's been just over two years since then, and there is now banjo on half of the Swear and Shake tunes we currently play. It's become such a staple of our newer sound.

What are your favorite NYC venues to play? Do you guys have local bands you like to work or jam with?

Adam: Mercury Lounge, the Living Room, and Arlene's Grocery are our favorite venues. Cult Fever, Tall Tall Trees, Plume Giant, Anthony da Costa, and These Animals are our best friend bands, and we've done bills with them all.

For Kari: You said in the Making of Maple Ridge doc that you were just about done with music before playing with Adam. Can you talk about that change of heart a little? What made that music experience different?

Kari: I spent 10 years writing and performing as a solo singer-songwriter before meeting Adam. At the end of my college career, I started to feel unfulfilled with my art. I wasn't happy with my songwriting and only wanted to sing other people's songs, which also didn't feel fulfilling. Adam asked me to sing on his song Johnnie and we worked really well together. We rearranged some things, wrote harmonies, and recorded a simple demo. It was the start of a great partnership. We inspire and encourage each other. I had never played with other people before, aside from hiring instrumentalists for my solo work. Opening myself up to creating with another person made me a better musician


Watching the Avett Brothers from backstage at Mountain Jam VI was amazing. When I heard them perform "Yardsale" I knew I had to buy a banjo.

Swear And Shake
"Maple Ridge"

what it is

Rousing folk rock straight from the country dirt roads.
 For those who like: Ray LaMontagne, Alison Krauss, Swell Season