Full Texts and Links of Some New and Old Press:
January 7, 2017
New feedback after recording first song with new writing partner Rich Flierl of Dotsun Moon.
10 minutes: Maria Sebastian on songwriting, inspiration
Maria Sebastian will play at Clarence's Penny Lane Cafe on April 29.
Shared marquees with acts as sonically opposed as the Byrds’ Roger McGuinn and Southern metal slingers Jackyl is the mark of career both accomplished and impressively chameleonic.
But for Buffalo-born singer/songwriter Maria Sebastian, it’s always been about moving where the music takes you. Whether during her start as a strumming 16-year-old at Club Utica, navigating the alt-rock scene of the '90s or now teaming her story-based lyrics with Americana or sometimes soft-rock-leaning rhythms, she’s never been easy to pin down — and that’s a good thing. Mystery adds intrigue to an arsenal honored multiple times by the Buffalo Music Awards, and one that plans to gets richer with the artist’s soon-to-be released album, “Be.”
Sebastian is now unveiling some of this solo material on stage including a date alongside her poet husband, Perry Nicholas, who will join Sebastian and other friends at 7 p.m. April 29 in Clarence’s Penny Lane Café (10255 Main St.). She took time to discuss her past work, forthcoming material and her always evolving career calling.
Question: Of all the musicians you’ve played with, who stands out as most memorable?
Answer: Richie Havens. He signed CDs until the line was gone. He didn't have to do that.
Q: You've referred to 2009's "Yellow Envelope" as the best album you've ever produced. What elements make it shine so bright?
A: It's the variation of the songs. I started it under the influence of Liz Phair and the Gin Blossoms and finished it with Lucinda Williams and John Prine. It took six years, but my inspirations changed a lot in those years, and it makes the song order a surprise as each one passes. I wish folks would pop it in their car and listen start to finish. I have a riot doing that even now. Other drivers must think I'm on the phone, but I'm just screaming "yes!" at my speakers. This was a big change for me. Some of my early discs make me want to change my name.
Q: How does the material due for "Be" compare to this past work?
A: I got off my own back after five years of overthinking and allowed myself to write something not so clever but universal, even a bit on the poppy side. I decided the lyrics didn't have to have a message or a lesson. I also have Nelson Starr with me again, and his recordings never sound "local." If I had the budget, he'd make it a world-class record. He's had to hold back and work within my financial limits, but he won't be able to help himself. It'll be exquisite.
Q: Friday's show will feature poetry from your husband, Perry Nicholas. What about your material is particularly compatible?
A: We love words, we inspire each other, and we like short shows. We keep these at about a set each, we talk with people who show up, we have a wine or a coffee, and we hope something sticks for the listeners. Family ties kept us local all these years, but thanks to the acoustic music and poetry scene, we can still perform live.
They don't care how old you are, so now it's on the road for Perry and me as often as possible. We have shows coming up in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and across New York State. We hope to keep building on that.
Q: Many musicians consider their craft a calling. Do you feel this way?
A: It's a calling, a gift, and sometimes a curse. It chooses and owns you, so you sacrifice everything for it, and it either pays off or it doesn't. I guess you just have to keep redefining what "worth it" means. For me, the draw is trying to say something better than the last time. That's not something you retire from, so it's more about keeping going. If you happen to grow along the way, that's extra.
Link to article in The Buffalo News
11/25/15: Buffalo News
"[Sebastian] has a wonderful Rock and Roll authenticity in what she does but can also bring the volume down without losing the intensity."
-- Jerry Falzone, Fandango at the Tango, Rochester. March, 2015.
Lewiston Arts Cafe Series Press
These cold and dull Tuesday nights are about to be revamped with live entertainment from award-winning local poets and musicians, one poem and song at a time.
Beginning on Tuesday, February 11, the Lewiston Opera Hall (732 Center St.) will host poetry and live music from the Buffalo and Lewiston communities. Sponsored by Just Buffalo Literary Center and the Lewiston Council on the Arts, the new Lewiston Arts Café series will run 7-8:30pm on the second Tuesday of every other month. In addition to live entertainment there will also be refreshments, book/ CD sales, and time allotted to meet the artists.
“Just Buffalo Literary Center is so proud to be partnering with the Lewiston Council on the Arts to launch this new series,” Just Buffalo’s artistic director Barbara Cole said. “We are very fortunate that Western New York has such a rich and diverse poetry community that can support an ever-expanding variety of new and ongoing literary series.”
As Irene Rykaszewski, executive director of Lewiston Council on the Arts explains, “Our goal is to provide access to high quality cultural experiences in Niagara County and to expand opportunities for artists to present their original work. This series represents a new direction for the Art Council and we are so excited to complement poetry readings with the performance of original music.”
Perry Nicholas, co-curator of the Lewiston Arts Café series, organized the poetry lineups in collaboration with musician Maria Sebastian who curated the musical acts for the series. “We wanted to create an informal, creative atmosphere where anyone interested in the arts could meet and experience both original poetry and music,” Nicholas said. “Our goal for this venture is to further unite our poetry and music communities.”
Nicholas and Sebastian make a powerful duo; he is a Pushcart-nominated poet with four books of poetry and she has won 15 Western New York music awards, including Buffalo Spree’s Album of the Year for her 2009 album Yellow Envelope. Sebastian’s music has been placed in television and films and she has recorded and toured with many national musicians including 10,000 Maniacs, Roger McGuinn, and Richie Havens.
The poetry and music pairings they’ve scheduled are equally impressive. The series will kick off on February 11 with poet E. R. Baxter III and a musical performance by Alison Pipitone, who is said to be “Buffalo’s first lady of original roots music.” The recipient of more than a dozen music awards, Pipitone has a vast fan base following her national tour.
Events are free for members of Just Buffalo Literary Center and the Lewiston Council on the Arts and cost only $2 for the general public. Learn more at www.justbuffalo.org.
From Ron Ehmke, Buffalo Spree Magazine, 2011.
Maria Sebastian, Truth Gets the Front of the Line
This clear-voiced singer-songwriter has been on the WNY scene for a while now, and Sebastian’s last release, Yellow Envelope, was Spree’s Best Local Album of 2009. A perfect crystallization of her strengths as a vocalist, lyricist, and crafter of memorable melodies, that one was a hard act to follow, so it’s not really a diss to say Truth isn’t quite as immediately irresistible. Even so, its best moments—songs like “Let Her Go” and “There … I Said It”— grow richer with each successive listen.
This time there’s a loose structuring device: Sebastian tells us the album is “dedicated to those who have inspired me in life and literature,” and the CD artwork and liner notes evoke such disparate role models as Malcolm X, Maya Angelou, Harvey Pekar, and Harry Nilsson. Lyrics get a little overly didactic here and there, but the melodies are invariably solid (I defy you to get some of them out of your head) and the basic concept is intriguing. Singer-songwriters are by nature an autobiographical lot, so it’s fun to watch one create a self-portrait through songs and stories about other writers.
Written by Maria Sebastian
Last Updated on 18 March 2010
In the spring of 2005 I was invited to perform a live set at Buffalo’s Galleria Mall for Goo Goo Dolls Bassist, Robbie Takac’s, Music is Art Foundation Annual Instrument Drive. The mall enjoyed a fairly busy afternoon and the drive seemed a success. Shoppers listened in passing and some stayed a while to grin at the girl and guitar on a riser between the Dollar Store and Sears.
When my set was over, I began wrapping cords as a friendly woman approached me with, "My husband and I love what you just did. You should share a show with him some time. He's a folk singer playing in town tonight—Roger McGuinn." She said his name expecting I should recognize it. Her husband leaned on a nearby wall: a folkie in a black hat stopping at the mall between coffeehouse gigs in the mountains.
After a brief chat I took their card on which (Camilla) had written Roger's booking agent info., as well as Mr. Folk Man's advice over which microphone I should be using instead of the pre-amp on my jumbo Alvarez. I put their card between spare string packs in my gig bag, gave a genuine nice-to-meet-you, and carted my suitcase and guitar through a neon Spongebob hallway toward the parking lot.
Over coffee that night I Googled "Roger McGuinn" to see if I should line up a valley-view patio gig with this earthy couple; maybe something downstate in the Catskills or Woodstock—hadn’t been there in a while.
No one mentioned BYRDS.
My musician friends still pat me sympathetically on the head since for all the music trivia I thought I knew, I knew not that Roger McGuinn meant legendary Byrds guitarist—the man who introduced the 12-string Rickenbacker to rock music inspiring Tom Petty and Bob Dylan, and putting folk-rock on the genre map.
I skimmed and scrolled and found an e-mail address that put me in direct contact with Roger. In the subject header I wrote "Well blow me down." He replied the next day with "You should have opened for me last night." But I had a gig in Batavia (eh-hem)….
It took over a year, but I landed that opening slot. I opened for Roger McGuinn at Buffalo’s beloved Rockwell Hall, once again a year later in Tarrytown, NY at their music hall, soon after in New Jersey, and in ’08 we played Chicago’s Prairie Center for the Arts in Schaumburg. Venues call with, "I see that you have opened for him in the past, so if you're interested…." These have become my favorite shows, and the ones I use for inspiration to write the next song.
Roger's is a listening crowd hoping for a good story, and after playing and recording for nearly fifteen years, I have realized most recently, with the encouragement of The McGuinns and their fans, that I've got plenty.
Maria opens for Roger McGuinn on Saturday, May 8th at the Memorial Opera House. For more information, visit www.mohlive.com. On May 7th, she will perform at the Cornucopia Coffee House in Valparaiso (www.cornucopiacoffee.net) at 8pm. Visit her on the web: http://www.mariasebastian.com.
"Brilliant set..." - Amy Wellock, Club Cafe, Pittsburgh, 2004
05/08/09 Hudson Valley's The Daily Freeman Review of Yellow Envelope: Maria Sebastian
ALBUM: Yellow Envelope
A winner of numerous Buffalo Music Awards from Clarence Center, New York, Maria Sebastian checks in with "Yellow Envelope." This journey starts out with the nostalgic sounds of a scratchy old vinyl record singing, "if you were a drug/if you were a pill/if you were a dare against my character and will/I would take you now" in a pop-rock style. She doesn't limit herself to one style, though. In the intimate, crystal-clear "Snow," Sebastian sings, "I shoulda learned to drive in the snow." "Goin' Away" is a bit aimless and wobbly (even though it has a killer guitar solo in the outro). But happily, she gets back on track with the country-tinged "Happily."
A fast-paced "Everything Reeks of You" sports some wicked "My Sharona"-style octaves. Sebastian shows off her range and power in "Wings" and "Falling Through the Cracks." "In Our Bed" is tricky, yet effective as she sings almost alone for more than two minutes, and just when you think it's safe to put your feet up, the full band comes roaring in. With her lovely voice and clever way with words, Sebastian has a great record on her hands here. Eclectic and diverse, it's not only retro in sound, but in the way she jumps around from genre to genre without a care ... as it should be.
--David Malachowski is a guitarist, producer and freelance journalist living in Woodstock.
Roger and Camilla McGuinn
For fun: Roger records Audioboos and has included Maria in his plugs
(Turn your volume up for these--they are quiet.)
"I wish I wrote it!" - Nashville Songwriter Kim Mclean on Maria's 'The Driver's Side.'
"If Maria Sebastian doesn't soon eclipse Natalie Merchant and any other voice from the Buffalo region, I'll be amazed. Her writing is both spooky and bold, and the sound of her voice will make you leave your comfortable bed and go sleep in the woods. She haunts you like that."
-- Author/Filmmaker Joel Gardner (Son of John Gardner)
05/21/09 CD Review for Yellow Envelope- By Bob Silvestri Her stature as an artist is evident if only by the guests appearing on Yellow Envelope. Review of Songs I Wrote in the Car "I adore Maria Sebastian. As a singer songwriter she is up there with the best. As a live performer she has never failed to entertain me whether in a cover band, solo or with her own band." "Maria Sebastian is one of the area's most accomplished singers. 'Maybe It's Just Me' furthers that claim...This woman sure knows how to sing the heck out of a song!"
- Bob Sylvestri (bestofwny)
05/01/2008 Maria's interview and live performance for Buffalo Avenues. Edited and archived on Morning Edition (WBFO)
"Hard to say what's most impressive about the latest release from this veteran singer-songwriter: the high production values, the tremendous variety from track to track, or the sheer emotional range of Sebastian's voice and lyrics."
--Buffalo Spree (awarded Maria's Yellow Envelope with "Local Album of the Year" in 2009)
"Sebastian is one of the most talented rising artists in this area."
- Shaun Smith, Artvoice - 2007
From Camilla and Roger McGuinn's blog page: (Written by Camilla.):
"The previous time we were in Buffalo, Roger and I were walking through the Walden Galleria Mall and heard the sound of a wonderful voice drifting our way. The mall was celebrating something, as malls often do, with a stage and music. An attractive woman was standing bravely on stage by herself singing her heart out to shoppers passing on their way. We stood by a store window and listened to her last song. Roger loved her voice. I approached her and asked her name and contact information telling her that my husband would someday like to have her as his opening act. Later in the evening at Rockwell Hall, I mentioned to Jeff, the promoter, that Roger would like to have Maria Sebastian open for him the next time he played the venue. Jeff was familiar with Maria and made a note of Roger's request. When this show was scheduled, Jeff arranged for Maria to be on the bill.
I opened The Buffalo News on March 30 looking for advertisements for Roger's show. The headline that I saw on the front page of the entertainment section was, "THE WEEK: Maria Sebastian is a storyteller with a guitar." Mark Sommer, a reporter we have worked with for years, interviewed Maria about how she became the opening act for Roger McGuinn. She told Mark about the day a woman approached her about opening for her husband but she didn't recognize the musician's name. That night she Googled him and was shocked and embarrassed. She wasnÕt the first one to be caught unaware by this quiet troubadour. Maria was the sparkling local celebrity singing to a happy hometown crowd at Rockwell Hall on March 30, 2007. Roger enjoyed listening to her through the speakers in his dressing room. I enjoyed musicians coming to my "lemonade stand" and letting me know when they would be performing at the mall. There were a lot of smiles leaving the venue that night."
"Maria Sebastian and her band opened the show and made it clear that the only thing separating them from the headliners was a contract rider and a tub of beer backstage. Sebastian, like (Sarah) Harmer, is an elegant, emotive singer, and her songwriting is strong as well. The band smoked, kicking Sebastian's gorgeous 'In Our Bed' square in the pants halfway through the arrangement, and subtly extending the melodic and harmonic possibilities during other pieces of the all-too-brief set. Sebastian plays around town regularly, and you should see her."
--Jeff Miers, Buffalo News Music Critic 7/7/05
"Opening the (Richie Havens) show was Maria Sebastian, a talented, singer-songwriter with a great sense of humor."
--Dan Herbeck, Buffalo News.
"Sebastian is one of Buffalo's best-kept secrets. With material as good as this, that ought to change soon."
--Mark Sommer, Buffalo News - 2007 Buffalo News, 2009 (Music Awards)