That is the word Sarah McElhaney O’Dell shared backstage after her final Feb. 3 performance as songstress of the Sarah Mac Band at the Dixie Theatre.
Her professional friendship with proprietor Dixie Partington set the bar high for nine years as its house band and creator in 2010 of its theme song, “To The Dixie.”
For O’Dell, and bandmates, Charlie Vanture and Claire Swindel, the concert was a homecoming.
“We know each other’s stories,” said O’Dell about Partington. “Dixie made us her people.”
For fans, from Apalachicola, Monticello, Tallahassee, and Athens, Georgia, it was a chance to applaud the devotion that went into making this a dream, for over 18 years together, 13 as the Sarah Mac Band.
Saturday night, libations were served by Up the Stairs, and after two hours to eat and drink, O’Dell plugged in her guitar and exclaimed “We’re not sure we’re ready for this!”
However, there was no mistaking they were, when she let loose, in her signature style of scat singing, “Na, Na Na’s” that led listeners into her soft, but sultry sound; sound that strips the bones off of songs, but commands the stage.
She then grabbed the mike to her lips like she was going home with it, and echoed what the audience already knew, that she is, as the song “Ready to Stay” (2015) suggests, “moving on.”
O’Dell reflected, on being a performer in Tallahassee, and the moment when she’d recognized that she was the “Do You Know Who I Am?” Sarah, becoming admired for her work.
“It’s wonderful, but hard,” O’Dell said, of the decision she made 18 months ago to retire. “We didn’t want to go out going through the motions for fans, so when people started telling us, please don’t, we knew it was time.”
Her dad, Elwood, had mixed emotions, but said, “I’m glad to see her getting on with life, in different ways.”
O’Dell and husband Darren are celebrating one year married, but she quickly added, “He’s not a Yoko Ono of the Sarah Mac Band!”
He replied, “I’m glad her future includes me.”
The set list for the final show featured “Gloryland,” (2010) for which Vanture milked the meat out of a 1972 Gibson Les Paul. The band intentionally did not sing “Dixie,” and the show also did not feature oldie, “Crossroads” (2012) but they did play, “Michigan” (2012). She also crooned the audience with her rendition of “Summertime.”
On the Farewell tour, they performed a unique second set, of new, unrecorded songs from start to finish, and the only way to hear them was live. Vanture said about writing these songs for their last lucky listeners "I'm glad we did," but there are no plans to produce the album.
Finally, O’Dell asked the audience to feel, what it was like with five songs left, and the sold-out crowd stood as Sarah Mac Band offered a “final breath” to a good run.