Sarah Dashew: A Musical Journey At Sea


“Everywhere you go you take your storms with you.

You take your black and blue.

You take your memories too.

Everywhere you go you take your childhood.

Take your bad and good.”

—Lyrics from “Everywhere You Go” by Sarah Dashew

A family of four anchored off the shore of Bali and traveled ashore, where they sat down with a throng of fellow seafarers for a potluck dinner around a campfire.

It was only a few seconds before someone pulled out a guitar. Locals came out of the woodwork with ukuleles. And, soon, a 4-year-old girl with bright blue eyes was dancing to the tribal sounds, her blonde curls bouncing off her shoulders.

She captured everyone’s attention. And if it wasn’t in Bali, it was another island nation or foreign country during the child’s seven years spent at sea, sailing the world.

“People would just come up to me and touch me and pinch me and pick me up without asking,” Sarah Dashew, now 41, reminisced last week during a telephone interview. “They meant it very sweetly—and I hated it.”

The four-part harmonies swirling in Ms. Dashew’s young mind that day on the beach in Bali were just the seeds of the singer-songwriter’s career. Today, the artist croons intimate lyrics in a soulful, upbeat voice with just a taste of rich huskiness as she breaks in between lines—a sound she has cultivated from many years both on and off the water, and one she will bring to the Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett on Thursday, June 19.

Ms. Dashew descends from a long line of sailors. Her grandfather, Stanley Dashew—who sold his 76-foot sailboat in 1954 to fund his Databosser machine, a device that created the first plastic credit card—later introduced his son, Stephen, to his future wife, Linda, aboard his prized catamaran, HuKa Makani, on Labor Day weekend in 1965.

The Dashews always played jazz or classic rock from the boat radio throughout their daughter’s childhood, but she considers herself a late bloomer. Before she made it to the stage, Ms. Dashew took some time to discover her own sound in an unexpected way.

“My [college] roommate dragged me to this gospel concert, and my knees just started shaking,” Ms. Dashew chuckled. “It was a multi-cultural, black, Pentecostal gospel choir—120 people filed out on stage, and I didn’t know what to think. I’d never listened to gospel before.

“All of a sudden, this drum kicks in, and then 120 people in perfect harmony go, ‘God will take care of you.’ Drum beat. ‘God will take care of you.’ And, all of a sudden, I was like, ‘Oh.’”

During her junior year studying abroad in Spain, Ms. Dashew took up guitar before graduating from Wesleyan University in Connecticut with a degree in sociology. She then spent some time working in the family business—designing sailboats—before she discovered a passion for more than the sounds of the open sea.

She was 23 years old in Austin, Texas, watching musician Bob Schneider let loose on his hometown stage, when she had a revelation.

“I just went, ‘This is myself. I need to stop,’” Ms. Dashew said. “‘This is my life.’”

While Austin created her sound, she honed it back in Los Angeles, California—the place she calls home when she’s not at sea. Often compared to raspy, heart-wrenching female artists—Janis Joplin and Carole King come to mind, she said—Ms. Dashew is carving out her own identity, she said, by focusing on writing and frequently penning intimate lyrics to several songs at a time.

“The world is shifting,” she said, “and there’s no reason why you can’t do something where you put something out two or three times a year, because you’ve got this beautiful short story instead of a novel.”

Inspired by her love of sailing, Ms. Dashew released her EP “Something in the Weather” in March, along with her first video for the title track, almost 10 years after her debut record, “Jealous Girl,” dropped in 2006.

Always challenging herself to tackle more, Ms. Dashew says it’s her own fear that inspires her, forcing her to take a vulnerable leap, especially while performing in front of a live audience—her blue eyes twinkling and her blonde curls still bouncing to the beat.

“If I can open myself up and get naked on stage, it’s not so bad,” Ms. Dashew said. “Then maybe you can get naked to yourself and realize it’s okay.”

Sarah Dashew will give a concert on Thursday, June 19, at 8 p.m. at the Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett. Tickets are $20. For more information, call (631) 267-3117.

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