Well-crafted songs, lush harmonies and a sound that feels like you’re hanging outside on a warm evening with your closest friends.
That’s the vibe of the appropriately named Harrisburg-area band, Indian Summer Jars.
Founder Sarah Beth came up with the band’s unusual name years ago while hiking at Ski Roundtop.
“It was a beautiful October day, and the weather was starting to change, but it was still warm—what they call an Indian summer,” she said. “The ‘Jars’ part of the name is bottling that up and carrying it with you.”
The band seems to mark time with the recordings that they produce.
Sarah started the band when she was 19, and the first CD, “Similar,” was recorded in 2008.
“I was working with another woman named Sarah King,” she said. “I did all the writing, and she and I would do the arrangement.”
The duo stuck together for five or six years and produced the second full-length album, “Catalyst,” before disbanding. Sarah tried playing solo, but performing by herself didn’t satisfy her.
“I love to write, and I don’t mind doing solo here and there, but I get so much out of sharing it,” she said.
Indeed, the band has gone through a lot of changes over the years. Today, they perform as a quartet featuring Sarah Beth on lead vocals and guitar, Jenn Hara on harmony vocals, Jason Whetstone on accordion, pennywhistle and vocals and Kelly McClain on percussion.
Jenn and Jason joined the band for the third CD, “Heart Rock,” along with percussionist Dani Fiore. Their fourth and latest CD, “Circles,” features the current line-up. Jason recorded and produced the CD, and, though he has a lot of quality recording equipment, the recording spaces they used were makeshift.
“We recorded ‘Circles’ in a couple of different homes, and I’ve heard from so many people that this one sounds the best,” he said.
Producing the CD presented a challenge, too, as the group wanted to keep a natural sound.
“You need to know when enough is enough,” Jason said. “Looking back, there are one or two things that I would have liked to spend a little more time on, but I’m really happy with it.”
Even though the line-up has been fluid, one constant throughout the band’s two-decade tenure has been Sarah Beth’s superb story-songs.
“Her songs are so full of feeling and so true,” said Jason. “It’s like the heartbeat is there, and we are just following it.”
If you asked band members what’s most important to them, they would say ‘connection.”
“We all have a really great, powerful connection,” Jason said. “We’re best friends.”
The band also likes to connect to their audiences.
“When the audience is appreciating us, the energy is amazing,” he said. “We really care about these songs and want to share them with our audiences.”
You can catch Indian Summer Jars this month June 2, 2 p.m., at the Glen Rock Mill Inn, Glen Rock, and at 6 p.m. at John Wright Restaurant, Wrightsville; on June 7, 6 p.m., at Wyndrige Farm, Dallastown; and on June 30, 4 p.m., at Amethyst Retreat Center, Duncannon. For more information, visit www.isjband.com.