Songs and friends

Join Sandra Dolores’ open-mic groupie troupe

Sandra Dolores raises the Torch.

Sandra Dolores raises the Torch.


Torch Club

904 15th St.
Sacramento, CA 95814

(916) 443-2797

Three words to describe the music of singer-songwriter Sandra Dolores: flirty, heartfelt and honest. Working her way through the Sacramento music scene with a guitar case full of love and hate, this fresh face to the folk world has left an impression on venues such as Torch Club, Old Ironsides, Luna’s Café & Juice Bar, and Fox & Goose. I caught up with Dolores at her weekly open-mic at the Torch Club (each Wednesday at 904 15th Street, 5:30-8 p.m.) for three five-minute conversations between hosting duties.

I’ve always wondered: Do folk singers have groupies?

Most definitely! I believe every artist has a pair of shining eyes following them. I’d be lying if I said I was onstage only for me. Of course I want people to like what I do, to admire it, to be turned on or inspired by it. I know what it feels like to be a groupie. And in turn, I know what it feels like to be held up on a pedestal. It’s a give-and-take; we need each other.

Are you taking any applications?

Sure, although I should mention I can only pay in smiles and songs.

Cliché question time: What inspires your music?

Sometimes I’ll go to a show and get inspired, or buy new music. But more often it’s my own experiences and mishaps. I’ve always written well when I’m upset, which kind of disturbs me. I’d like to be able to write emotional songs without being in some kind of personal torment. I want to be a storyteller first and foremost. This is something I’m working on.

Why do you feel open-mics are such an important part of the Sacto music scene?

Open-mics are where I found my first home in a local music scene. There was an amazing support group of artists at my first open-mic. …

As someone who got their beginning at an open-mic, it’s a wonderful thing to be able to nurture that creativity. Open-mics give artists residency, a place to go every week to sing and a spot to try out new material. There is always a community that gathers at any open-mic. No matter where or when, each one has its regulars, listeners and performers alike, and the same host who is meeting and greeting. It’s important to have that stability in a business that is so unreliable. To be able to count on seeing the same faces week to week is priceless.

I play a mean set of spoons. Any way we could work something out?

Sure, just let me know, and I’ll be sure to bring the jug and the washboard.

Which comes first, the music or the words?

It’s a mixture of both. When I sit down to write, I have an emotion or an idea running through me that is asking to be expressed. I also get lines that stick in my brain. One-liners. I love one-liners! So I fiddle with the guitar a bit to find a melody that fits what I’m feeling, and then the words come. Sometimes I also pull from my poetry and free-writes. When a song starts, I type out lines, nothing definite, just lines that are associated with the idea. As I write the song, I test out different wordplay until it all comes together. Usually whatever words I wrote out that I don’t end up using, I use for another song. It all gets recycled and reused in the end.

When is your album coming out, and what can folks expect?

The album will be done by fall. It’s titled Wait and See, which is the title of one of the tracks. It fits where I am right now with music and life, I suppose. Not sure what will happen, uncertain about where I want to end up. Hence, Wait and See.

Anyone who’s seen me perform knows my songs are all about the lyrics. I’ve always performed solo acoustic. I didn’t want to stray too far from that, but I also wanted to have a full band, sound since my last album was purely acoustic. The album will be heavy in acoustic guitar, with the lyrics always remaining a focal point. All other instrumentation—piano, strings—will accent and complement. I wanted to be sure and include some fun, feel-good songs, but of course I had to stick with my folk singer-songwriter roots and include a few dark and emotional stories. I think it has a bit of everything as far as pop/folk goes.