George Varga, music critic for U-T San Diego once said of Sara Petite, “There is no medical evidence to prove that Lucinda Williams, Nanci Griffith and Carrie Rodriguez joined forces to mother a fully-grown musician daughter. But if they did, San Diego singer-songwriter Sara Petite would be the likely outcome.”
You could add Lucinda Williams, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin into that hypothetical mix as well, but the fact is, Sara Petite doesn’t need to be compared to anyone. In the finest singer-songerwriter tradition, her music, voice and presence are totally her own, telling her stories in her unique way, while earning her nickname, Sweet Pea. Her style ranges from bluegrass to country to rock’n’roll, and most of her material is wholly original. She counts among her influences Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Dolly Parton, Steve Earle, June Carter, and even Minnie Pearl. “I just love her humor!” she laughs.
Winner of the 2012 prestigious Chris Austin songwriting contest at Merlefest, and three San Diego Music Awards, in 2013 Sara released her fourth album, The Circus Comes To Town written both before and after the death of her partner, drummer Johnny Kuhlken, a tragedy that effected Petite intensely. “It’s a full perspective of the human being – jealousy, infidelity, fun, wit, tragedy, pain, loss, perseverance, substance abuse, shame, guilt and just plain silliness,” she says.
A crowd favorite, Sara has been playing at Gator By the Bay since 2008. Originally from Washington, she’s performed with her band, the Sugar Daddies, around San Diego for 10 years now, and recently returned from a very successful European tour. She’ll be opening for Cajun music stars Beausoleil Avec Michael Doucet at the Thursday night concert, and she’s excited to be participating in Gator By the Bay again this year. “It’s really fun for me,” she notes. “One of my favorite things is going around the festival and listening to other bands that I don’t often get to hear.”
When asked about her songwriting process, Petite explains,“ Sometimes I co-write with a friend, and sometimes it’s just me. Sometimes the melody comes first, other times it’s the lyrics. It’s more often late at night that something comes to me, even when I’m dreaming—or maybe half-dreaming.”
Catch Sara on Thursday, May 7, at 7pm. Sarapetite.com