Sep 28, 2018
About This Episode
At fifteen, Dead Horses frontwoman
Sarah Vos’ world turned upside down. Raised in a strict,
fundamentalist home, Vos lost everything when she and her family
were expelled from the rural Wisconsin church where her father had
long served as pastor. “My older brother was diagnosed with
schizophrenia and my twin had mental illnesses and cognitive
disabilities,” explains Vos. “When the church kicked us out, they
basically told my dad, ‘If you can’t lead your family, how can you
lead your church?’”
“At the time we were expelled, we
lived in the church’s parish house,” explains Vos. “Suddenly, my
father was unemployed and my family was homeless. My parents
couldn’t afford insurance for the medical care my siblings needed.
We were kicked out and completely abandoned.”
However, Vos’ love of music carried
on after she left the church.
“Almost half of those services [were]
just singing hymns,” she reflected in a recent interview. “I also
went to a parochial school, so I had to memorize hymns and Bible
verses all day, too. When I really look back, before I had the
chance to explore music on my own, that was really central. Even
the way I write songs [today] is reminiscent of hymns. That’s maybe
why I was so drawn to folk music to begin with: it’s geared towards
communities singing it together.”
By the time Vos turned 18, her family
had begun to get back on their feet. She headed to Milwaukee for
college, and there, came to terms with revelations about her
sexuality that her religious upbringing had forced her to repress.
The mix of freedom and relief and shame and guilt was overwhelming,
and a depressive breakdown ensued.
“I couldn’t take care of myself,” she
remembers. “I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t do
anything. I stopped going to classes, and then I dropped out
altogether and moved back home to Oshkosh. That’s where I met
When bassist Daniel Wolff and Vos
first started playing music together, it felt as if the clouds had
finally parted. Vos introduced songs she’d been writing since high
school open mics, Wolff learned a new instrument for the band (the
double bass), and within months, they had earned a devoted local
following. Regular gigs led to steady residencies led to regional
touring and their first recordings. Two of the band’s original
members ultimately left the group due to opioid addictions (“I
still see the pawn shop sticker every time I look at my guitar
tuner,” remembers Vos), but the Dead Horses moniker the pair
created as a tribute to a friend who’d over-dosed from heroin stuck
even after their departure.
American Songwriter called Vos “a
compelling vocalist…who carries every tune with her husky, deeply
emotional tone that feels lived in and real,” while No Depression
hailed her songwriting as “beautiful and fresh.” With a fleshed out
touring lineup, the group logged countless miles, sharing bills
along the way with Trampled by Turtles, Mandolin Orange, Rhiannon
Giddens and Elephant Revival in addition to making festival
appearances from Bristol Rhythm and Roots to WinterWonderGrass.
We were lucky enough to welcome them
live on stage at Big Top Chautauqua. In this episode of Tent Show
Radio you'll hear the show given by Dead Horses when they came to
the Big Blue Tent in 2017.
About Michael Perry
Michael Perry is a New York Times
bestselling author, humorist and radio show host from New Auburn,
Perry’s bestselling memoirs include
Population 485, Truck: A Love Story, Coop, and Visiting Tom, and
his latest, Montaigne in Barn Boots: An Amateur Ambles Through
Philosophy. His first book for young readers, The Scavengers, was
published in 2014 and first novel for adult readers, The Jesus Cow,
was published in May of 2015.
Raised on a small Midwestern dairy
farm, Perry put himself through nursing school while working on a
ranch in Wyoming, then wandered into writing. He lives with his
wife and two daughters in rural Wisconsin, where he serves on the
local volunteer fire and rescue service and is an intermittent pig
farmer. He hosts the nationally-syndicated “Tent Show Radio,”
performs widely as a humorist, and tours with his band the Long
Beds (currently recording their third album for Amble Down
Records). He has recorded three live humor albums including Never
Stand Behind A Sneezing Cow and The Clodhopper Monologues.
Learn more about Michael and where to
get his publications at www.sneezingcow.com.
Follow Michael Perry
Other Ways to Stream