Sarah Cram and the Derelicts perform its old country sound on Friday


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It doesn’t take much to inspire the musicians of Sarah Cram and the Derelicts. The band looks no further than its surroundings to create songs that resonate deeply with its listeners.

“Similar to what goes on in the real world, we have songs that are about anger, misery, sadness, happiness, friends, family, and some that are just downright goofy,” said drummer Michael Martinez. “Everything around us can and does go into the songs.”

Sarah Cram and the Derelicts will play Friday at the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St., along with Illinois John Fever, Dustin Bush, and Amelia White. The show will begin at 9 p.m.; admission is $8.

Cram compares her musical style with that of 1950s and ’60s country, such as Roy Orbison, Wanda Jackson, and Hank Williams. She said it also has a rock influence coming from Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly.

The group formed three years ago through mutual friends and musicians, Cram said. The band comprises Cram, Kyle Oyloe, Brook Hoover, and Martinez.

This year marks the release of the band’s first album, Little Secrets. Cram said she believes she’s lucky to have a group of people who want to make music with her.

“It’s really fulfilling [to play music],” she said. “It keeps me happy. It keeps me busy and out of trouble.”

She enjoys using her talents to help out others she feels strongly about. The band has played at friends’ weddings, political rallies, and various fundraisers. She said it’s a great gift to be able to play for people.

Martinez agreed.

“It has been an honor to get invited to play at so many great local activities such as the Lefty’s Tattoo Convention, New Bohemia Festival, the Iowa City Women’s Music and Art Festival,” he said.

Cram made it clear she plays for herself, too.

“I try not to impress everybody or worry what everyone else thinks,” she said. “Let your true self shine through, and people can relate to that more.”

She leans heavily on her emotions when she writes, she said. Influential times in her life such as the 2008 eastern Iowa floods, the Obama election, and her 30th birthday have inspired songs and self-reflection.

For now, the Cedar Rapids musicians are focused on the sales of their new album, playing shows close to home, and a new record, which they’ve begun to work on.

Cram is excited about Friday’s concert.

“I’m look forward to playing at the Mill,” she said. “It’s my favorite place in Iowa City. I love everyone who works there.”

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