Greenpoint Gazette
Courtesy Swear and Shake

Swear and Shake on the Rise in New York City

BY Kylie Jane Wakefield

Seeing the band Swear and Shake is like falling into a relaxing trance. Singer Kari Spieler has a soulful, deep voice that blends perfectly with the vocals of co-lead singer Adam McHeffey. Although the self-described indie folk pop group has only been making music since May of 2010, they’ve already made it to Webster Hall, and are becoming increasingly popular in the local scene.

McHeffey, who graduated from the State University of New York at Purchase College with Spieler, a Williamsburg resident, said they hit it off after a short collaboration. “I asked her to demo a tune of mine titled ‘Johnnie,’… We realized we had musical chemistry right off the bat, and as soon as we had finished bouncing out the track we started thinking about band names and booking little shows for ourselves.”

From there, they found a drummer, Thomas Elefante, and a bassist, Shaun Savage, longtime friends of McHeffey’s, to provide the rest of the instrumentals. McHeffey plays guitar and banjo, while Spieler plays guitar. “We write singable stories you can get drunk and dance to,” she said. “We like to have a good time and we’re really conscious of the stories we tell.”

Last November, Swear and Shake released their first EP, “Extended Play,” and this year they’re putting out their debut full-length album, “The Maple Ridge LP,” thanks to the help of donations on One hundred and eight people donated to their cause, and they exceeded their $4,500 goal by almost $750. “I’m so proud and sometimes still shocked that we successfully funded the whole thing and then some through,” said Spieler. “It was such a great way to incorporate our fans, friends, and family in our work and progress and I think they really appreciated that.”

Courtesy Swear and Shake

The band seems to have no problem getting gigs, since they’ve played at most of the well-known North Brooklyn and New York City venues. Swear and Shake has performed at Pete’s Candy Store, the Knitting Factory, Cooper Park at the Go Folk Yourself! Festival, Spike Hill, and The Lovin Cup. In Manhattan, they’ve graced the stages of Arlene’s Grocery, Cakeshop, The Bitter End, and The Sidewalk Café. On October 25th, they’re playing one of the city’s most popular clubs, Webster Hall, a haven for popular indie bands.

Swear and Shake’s influences range from Bob Dylan and the Beatles to Edward Sharpe and the Magentic Zeros. Like these artists, their music is romantic, and best listened to when you’re seeking out relaxation.

Throughout their short time in New York, Swear and Shake has been successful at securing shows and attracting loyal fans, which is no easy task in a city of thousands of musicians trying to make it. However, this is what encourages the band to work hard and try and achieve even higher musical standards. “It seems like the opportunities are endless in terms of places to perform and bands/musicians to mingle with,” Spieler said. “It’s important to find venues you like and know will attract like-minded musicians. They can be hard to find, but we play anywhere and try everything and have found a few places. I think New Yorkers tend to be a bit jaded by the amount of music we have at our fingertips. It’s those things that help motivate us to keep pushing and strive to get better and better.”


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