My story on nine-piece pop band Sweet Spirit, the Sabrina Ellis fronted powerhouse that’s about to be Austin’s next big thing went online today. The band blew my mind during their Free Week show at the Mohawk inside (video above) and I wasn’t the only one. “I just remember getting kind of an ecstatic feeling,” Spoon’s Britt Daniel said about a moment in the show.
The band celebrates the release of their EP Friday at a free show with Ghost Wolves and Rupert Angeleyes Friday, Feb. 27 at Radio Coffee and Beer. (Starts at 9 p.m. Bands are drawing straws to see who plays first. Get there early. The club is very small.) They’ll also be playing a Spoon set backing Daniel at Mike McCarthy’s Birthday Bash on Sunday, Mar. 1 at C-Boys. (Buy your tickets now. It will likely sell out.)
My favorite part of the interview that didn’t make it into the piece was this great story Ellis told about how Jason McNeely gave the band a soul infusion. Here it is in Ellis’ (lightly edited) own words:
Sabrina Ellis: Jason McNeely from Hotel Vegas every year throws this huge show where he forces all of his friends in bands to play cover sets. I’ve always been so annoyed by it. I don’t like hoot nights really because the public reacts so much more excitedly to bands playing not their own songs than to bands playing their own songs. I find it annoying and yet I want to be part of the action and the party on New Year’s Eve with all of my friends. And Jason’s wonderful and I would do anything he asks me ever. So every year I’ve pretty much done whatever he’s asked me. One year he asked Bobby Jealousy to be Blondie.
We did Marvin Gaye with Sweet Spirit this past New Year’s Eve. I thought, ‘We’re doing Marvin Gaye, we better get horns.’ (Ellis also brought her friend Cara Tillman to sing backups so she wouldn’t have to pay the $20 cover.)
On New Year’s Eve I ran into Jason and I was like, “Hey Jason, Thank you. Learning that Marvin Gaye music was very difficult and I think it really helped us evolve as a band.” and he goes, “Why do you think I do this?”
He sees something in a band and he’s not like “This band reminds me of another band,” he’s like, “This band could use a little more of this other band.” And that just clicked with me this year. Then we ended up permanently keeping the extra members.