Artist tugs on hearts, strings

Cellist Lindsay Mac to perform at Unity Music Festival

Cellist Lindsay Mac to perform at Unity Music Festival

June 11, 2009|By NATALIE BRANDON

Lindsay Mac is not your typical cellist.

The alt-folk singer-songwriter straps the cello to her body like a guitar. Then, disregarding the bow, she alternately strums the strings or slaps them as if she were playing an electric bass.

She says she first strapped on her cello shortly before performing as the opening act for k.d. lang.

"If I was going to be standing in front of thousands of people in that amphitheater, I wasn't going to be sitting down," Mac says when reached by phone this week.

Mac will perform at this year's Unity Music Festival on Saturday, June 13, at the Farm of Peace in Warfordsburg, Pa. She is scheduled to begin playing at 5:45 p.m.


"It sounds like a place where people are genuine music lovers, and I love playing for that kind of audience," she says. "I'm also very earthy and my parents are former hippie free-thinkers who encouraged me to do my own thing."

A native of Iowa, Mac first picked up the cello in the fourth grade when she began taking lessons through her school's music program.

"All my friends picked the violin," says Mac, "but I picked the cello because I felt bad that nobody wanted to play it. I also thought it'd be more of a challenge to play such a big instrument."

Leaving behind her original plans of pursuing a career in medicine, Mac graduated from Dartmouth with a degree in liberal arts and began touring shortly thereafter.

She decided that her dream was to be a singer-songwriter with the cello as her instrument.

"I have always been really drawn to music, and I knew how to play the cello well, but the classical world wasn't for me," Mac says. "The cello captured my heart."

The inspiration for Mac's songs comes from everyday moments that have the potential to convey a deeper message to her listeners.

"For instance," she says, "if I see a kid crying in the grocery store because his mom refuses to buy him candy, it may be because the mom cannot afford it, even though it doesn't initially appear that way."

Mac's musical stylings recall Feist, Joni Mitchell, Regina Spektor, Ani DiFranco and Liz Phair.

Her songs touch on a wide range of emotions and thoughtful storytelling within both of her albums, "Small Revolution" and "Stop Thinking."

"I try to write good songs ... that are not only reflective of myself, but reflective of all human beings," she says, "I think if you write a song that's true to you, it's probably true for a lot of people. I guess I'd describe my music as 'honest.' It needs to be genuine."

But Mac appreciates that a successful performer appeals to an audience in more ways than one.

"My goal is to make the listener feel something, whether it be joy, sadness or even (anger)," she says. "At least, if you don't remember my name, you'll remember how I played the cello!"

If you go ...

WHAT: Second annual Unity Music Festival

WHEN: 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, June 13; gates open at 9:30 a.m.

WHERE: The Farm of Peace, 1212 Haven Lane, Warfordsburg, Pa.

COST: Admission is $25; $5 for ages 1 to 10; free for 12 months and younger. Adult advance tickets cost $20.

CONTACT: Call 717-573-2956 or go to

MORE: The Farm of Peace is alcohol- and drug-free. Attendees are asked to bring their own lunch and a blanket or lawn chair. Beverages will be available.

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