Sweetback Sisters Return for a Honky Tonk Sing-Along


NORTH ADAMS, MASS. - Back for their second appearance in North Adams, The Sweetback Sisters will help Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) and the greater community ring in the holidays with their honky tonk music, set to some holiday favorites on Thursday, Dec. 12, at 7:30 p.m. in the MCLA Church Street Center's Eleanor Furst Roberts Auditorium.

In addition to the Sweetback Sisters, MCLA's Jazz Band and choir, directed by composer/musician Jeff Link of the College's music department, as well as MCLA's award-winning Allegrettos, and - for the first time - students from The Academy at Charlemont also will perform at this event.

This MCLA Presents! sing-along event started as a tradition three years ago. Students and staff at the College will transform the MCLA Church Street Center into a holiday oasis for the evening, with free hot chocolate and cookies to be provided at the performance. 

"This annual traditional holiday sing-along has become one of my favorite events of the year,"said Jonathan Secor, director of MCLA's Berkshire Cultural Resource Center. "What is better than having great talent on stage and the opportunity to sing your favorite holiday songs with them? The event connects MCLA with our neighbors through a good old fashion sing-along."

Sweetback Sisters Emily Miller and Zara Bode may not be blood relations, but their precise, family-style harmonies recall the best of~country~music from the 1950s and '60s, according to Secor. The band takes their inspiration from the Davis~Sisters~and Louvin Brothers, as well as the spirited honky tonk energy of Wanda Jackson and Loretta Lynn.

The Sweetback Sisters started the Country Christmas Sing-along in 2009 at the Jalopy Theater in Red Hook, Brooklyn, N.Y. The first year brought an intimate gathering of family and friends close to the stage with lyric sheets so all could sing along. The audience was a combination of 20-somethings drinking beer and 60-somethings drinking mulled cider who sang so loudly that they nearly drowned out the old sound system. 

In 2010, they brought the sing-along to North Adams, filling to capacity what was then Taylor's (now Public Eat and Drink).  Miller was first inspired to host a sing-along while participating in a Christmas charity event in Chicago called "Songs of Good Cheer."

"The audience knew songs like 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas' and 'Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland' by heart because they've been singing those songs for most of their lives. I was so moved hearing the entire audience sing that I knew I wanted to recreate it with the Sweetback Sisters," Miller said.

Rehearsals were called, lyric sheets were passed out and the first year's sing-along was a success. It has now been a tradition for four years, culminating with the release of a Christmas sing-along record.

"People would always ask us if we were doing the sing-along again and if we would come to their city next year," Miller added.

Ticket prices to MCLA Presents! performances are $10 for general admission. Tickets for MCLA alumni are $8, $5 for staff and faculty and non-MCLA students, and members and students are free.

Tickets may be reserved by calling MCLA Presents! at (413) 662-5204.~For more information, (413) 664-8718, or go to presents.

MCLA Presents! is a program of MCLA's Berkshire Cultural Resource Center (BCRC), a collaborative project with Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) and the City of North Adams. The BCRC provides professional development training, resources and support to the artists, art managers and creative workers of Berkshire County. Through its multiple programs and presentations, BCRC brings the best of performance and art to the Berkshires and showcases the best of the Berkshires to the world.

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