The Real Sarahs will blend three voices into one at Sebastopol show

The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted.

When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.

If you no longer want to follow a story, click the "Unfollow" link on that story. There's also an "Unfollow" link in every email notification we send you.

This tool is available only to subscribers; please make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

Please note: This feature is available only to subscribers; make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.



Who: The Real Sarahs with Jon Gonzales and Viva La Reve

When: 8:45 p.m. Friday, April 27

Where: HopMonk Abbey, 230 Petaluma Ave., Sebastopol

Tickets: $10

Information: 707-829-7300,

Sometimes it can be hard to figure out where a band’s name comes from — that’s not the case with The Real Sarahs.

The three women in this Boonville-based band are all named Sarah, and their music is as real as it gets: authentic, raw and forthright.

“We really come from our hearts,” said band founder Sarah Larkin, 41, who began singing as a 3-year-old in church. “We are very honest and open people and I think that really comes through in our music.”

The band’s original songs, such as “Hard to Be a Woman,” Larkin said, directly talk about their personal experiences, emotions and journeys.

“We just put ourselves out there on stage.”

The Real Sarahs play with Viva La Reve and Jon Gonzales Friday, April 27, at the HopMonk in Sebastopol.

The band members often sing in three-part harmony.

“There’s something about women’s vocal harmony that is super evocative for the listener,” Larkin said.

The Three Sarahs use a large-diaphragm condenser microphone, made by Ear Trumpet Labs, that allows their voices to blend in the air before going to a soundboard and through the speakers.

“It just creates this real pure sound. I think that’s something that’s really greater than all of us,” Larkin said by phone during a tour in Washington state earlier this month.

“Our audience can really plug in with us and get that buzz. They feel it, and we feel it. It becomes like this loop of energy.”

The Real Sarahs began as a duo, about five years after Larkin and Sarah Ryan were asked by a mutual friend to perform at the Anderson Valley Variety Show at the grange hall near Boonville.

“From the moment Sarah Larkin and I met,” said Ryan, who’s in the habit of using her bandmates’ full names to avoid confusion, “we just had this very family-like connection, very sisterly.”

Ryan grew up around music — her father was a blues musician who died of cancer around the time she and Larkin formed The Real Sarahs.

“The first song I ever wrote was a tribute to him,” Ryan said. “His death was kind of an inspiration for me to really follow my dreams. He was a musician and always felt like he hadn’t fulfilled his dreams, by having a family and a career instead.”

Ryan, 37, is a single mother with a 12-year-old daughter. After going through a separation and divorce recently, she’s more committed than ever to music.

“I definitely use music as a form of therapy,” she said. “When I have something really intense happen in my life, like the death of my father or a breakup or good things, too, that’s usually how I process intense emotions, by writing a song.”

Now that The Real Sarahs’ circle is growing, Ryan feels more responsibility as a folksinger, and her music is getting more political.

“I started writing more social commentary and taking my own emotions and making them more universal,” she said.

The Real Sarahs’ new album, an EP, is called “Headed for the Hills” and speaks to current political issues, but doesn’t single out specific targets.


Who: The Real Sarahs with Jon Gonzales and Viva La Reve

When: 8:45 p.m. Friday, April 27

Where: HopMonk Abbey, 230 Petaluma Ave., Sebastopol

Tickets: $10

Information: 707-829-7300,

Ryan said she tried to make the title track “a little more vague, so everyone can make it their own story.”

The third member of the band, Sarah Rose, joined The Real Sarahs in the studio about two years ago on their 2016 album, “Afternoon with the Dirty Birds.”

A cellist and singer, Rose had been playing gigs in Mendocino County. Because her name is Sarah, people often asked her if she was in The Real Sarahs — “or why I wasn’t in The Real Sarahs” — she said.

After the recording sessions for “Dirty Birds,” Rose said, she continued working with the group and about 15 months ago, became an official member of The Real Sarahs.

“It’s lovely to be part of the team,” she said. “It can be lonely to be a solo artist.”

Rose, 26, a student at Mendocino Community College and a Waldorf School teaching assistant near Willits, is more than a decade younger than the other two Sarahs.

“It feels like I have two big sisters and mentors on how to be a musician and how to be an adult.”

Larkin, the band’s founder, said music has given her a sense of home, family and her roots.

As a teenager music helped her navigate the emotional rollercoaster of adolescence, and today it still comforts her.

“There is something really soothing about the act of making music, especially having your body be the instrument,” she said. “It’s sort of harnessing your inner power. It feels like you’re inner soul coming out, be it joy or melancholy.”

The Real Sarahs’ credo, appended at the end of the band’s emails, is just three words: “Music is medicine.”

“We’re just giving it away. We just want to put it out there and share it with the world.” Larkin said. “We get the high, and the audience gets the high, too. It’s this win-win experience.”

Michael Shapiro is the author of “A Sense of Place” and writes about travel and entertainment for national magazines and The Press Democrat.

Please read our commenting policy
  • No profanity, abuse, racism, hate speech or personal attacks on others.
  • No spam or off-topic posts. Keep the conversation to the theme of the article.
  • No disinformation about current events. Claims of "Fake News" will be delayed for moderation
  • No name calling. "Orange Menace", "Libtards", etc. are not respectful.
Send a letter to the editor

Our Network

Sonoma Index-Tribune
Petaluma Argus Courier
North Bay Business Journal
Sonoma Magazine
Bite Club Eats
La Prensa Sonoma
Emerald Report
Spirited Magazine