By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Jan 23, 2003 at 5:27 AM

For the past couple of years, Sara Pace's life has been a parade of milestones: a new marriage, new job, new city to call home and a new self-titled record. But Pace herself is not new. No, she's what you'd call an old soul.

With lyrics like "When I was a young lady/So very, very long ago" and "But I've grown restless as I've grown old" it's hard to remember the singer/songwriter is only twenty-eight.

But don't get the wrong idea: Pace is not a ghost from country records past, rather a mod Americana rocker with a folkie's soul and a truckload of talent, wisdom and sincerity. Plus, at times Pace recognizes her youth -- and it's accompanying ignorant bliss -- with tunes like "Hard to imagine (growning old)."

"Self-titled" is Pace's first CD and the ten songs range from joyful to melancholia, with highpoints including the upbeat opener, "The Hill," the delicate and catchy "Politeness" and the almost-gospel, "Lay My Body Down." It's a CD one can easily listen to over and over again, like the Indigo Girl's first record (also self-titled) or Joni Mitchell's "Blue."

Pace's voice is sweet and steady. At times, Pace sounds like one of her mentors, Gillian Welch, and even occasionally adopts a twinge of a Southern accent. At first listen, this is a bit baffling considering Pace is a Midwestern gal, but at risk of sounding esoteric, it really wouldn't be surprising if her soul has traveled to faraway places considering the timeless nature of her music.

Yep, Sara Pace is a brand new blast from the past.

OMC: I really like the quote in your bio: "I guess I was raised on the Great American Novel..." You mention three male musicians. Would you say you are more influenced by male musicians in general?

Sara Pace: Yes, I have been more influenced by male musicians. Partially, because my initial exposure to music was from father's record collection which just happened to be made up of a lot more male artists than female. But I think what influenced me more than that was the fact that I grew up with three older brothers. I guess I spent so much time around males growing up that I have always felt I understand them better. However, I should say, I certainly enjoy being a woman and it is something I am learning more and more about each day.

OMC: Who are some of your favorite female musicians?

SP: Today I enjoy listening to: Gillian Welch, Anna Purnell (The Reptile Palace Orchestra), Lucinda Williams, Neko Case and Emmylou Harris. Growing up I listened to The Carpenters, Grace Slick, Stevie Nicks, Madonna and Janis Joplin.

OMC: I also noticed you have opened for many male performers. Do you prefer working with men?

SP: No, I don't have a preference. It's a male dominated business, at least in the towns where I have played music. I think this is slowly changing though. I think in the next decade we are going to see a rise of power on behalf of women artists.

OMC: OK, enough gender-related questions. Expound on your message about "politeness." What inspired you to write this?

SP: Politeness was written during a writing drought that I was having. During this time I had a tendency to point my finger at everything in my life that I believed was drying up my inspiration: a crummy job, no money, no close friends, no conversations of real substance, etc. I was feeling sorry for myself, which is a something that, along with public restrooms that don't have hooks to hang your coat or purse on, bugs the heck out of me. So, this song was written when I finally pointed the finger at myself and said, "If you're going to write, then write."

OMC: You are a newlywed, right?

SP: Yes. I married my music partner Doug Milks, two months ago at the First Unitarian Church in Madison. I met Doug at the University of Iowa eight years ago where we were friends both socially and musically. After college, I moved to Portland, Oregon for a while. Around this time, I started going to the Kerrville Folks Festival in Texas. One year, I met Willy Porter and his band and they got me thinking of moving back to the Midwest. After I returned to Portland, I called Doug up, who was still living in Iowa City, and asked him if he would like to move to Milwaukee and pursue music. He said, "Okay." Somehow, Milwaukee turned into Madison and in January 2000, we both picked-up and moved here.

OMC: What is it like working professionally in music with your husband?

SP: We attempt to approach playing together as something separate from our intimate relationship, which doesn't always work. Although we have a lot in common in terms of interests and music tastes, there is enough that is different between us to sort of balance each other out.

OMC: Is Madison a good place to be a musician?

SP: We are still in the process of figuring out that out. The only thing I can compare Madison to is Iowa City. Even though Iowa City is a lot smaller, I think there is a bigger community of people supporting and performing the kind of music we play. I do, however, think there is a great deal of talent here in Madison. And geographically, it's in good proximity to Milwaukee, Chicago, Minneapolis, Iowa City and Des Moines.

OMC: Are you going to school in Madison, or do you just like "college towns?"

SP: No, I am not going to school in Madison and I wouldn't say that Madison being a college town was a big draw for me either. Doug and I had friends in Madison and it seemed like it would be easier to adjust to a new place with some friends and familiar faces around. I think it was a good choice. From meeting Lance Ketterer, the engineer on our album, to meeting all the musicians who ended up playing on our album, I have no complaints in respects to how things are unfolding.

OMC: Do you plan to stay in the Midwest?

SP: At this point, there really isn't anything tying us here. Both Doug and I grew up in the Midwest and we enjoy being close to our parents and families, but if the right reasons to move came along, we probably wouldn't pass it up.

OMC: What are your hobbies, aside from music?

SP: My hobbies aside from music? This question sparked a new resolution for me: to get more hobbies! In the winter I like to hibernate. I enjoy writing and reading. I like watching movies. In the summer, I like to sit on porches or decks with friends and drink Coronas.


OMC: Would you call yourself a poet?

SP: Sometimes, when I am thinking a certain way.

OMC: When and where do you do most of your writing?

SP: I like early mornings and late nights. Those are the times when I get things flowing. Sometimes in the morning I go somewhere, like a coffee shop. At night, I am at home sitting at a desk or table.

OMC: What kind of stuff are you writing about right now?

SP: I've had a very active year. I planned a wedding, became an aunt, bought a home, finished the CD, got laid off, got married, and started a new job. I, myself, am always interested in seeing how the events in my life shape the songs I write. My life has taken dozen of turns since I started writing songs. At each new turn, I always wonder if I've left too much behind to continue writing songs. What I've learned is that as long as I accept my life as it is now, the songs come.

For more information about Sara Pace or to order her CD, go to

Sara Pace is performing with Milwaukee's melaniejane, Stephanie Dosen and Heidi Spencer on Fri., Jan. 24, at Linnemann's (1001 E. Locust St.) Show starts at 8 p.m.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.