Photo by Katie Larocca (@katielarocca)
Meet Mandy Fer. Mandy is currently the guitarist for 3x GRAMMY nominee Allison Russell, as well as one half of the duo, Sway Wild, alongside Dave McGraw. You may have recently seen Mandy appearing alongside Allison on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, the GRAMMY Awards, or at festivals like Luck Reunion, SXSW, and more. “I have an immense feeling of gratitude, paired with disbelief with all of these opportunities that have come my way, but at the same time this feels like this is exactly what I was called to do. It felt so powerful to be with Allison, SistaStrings and Joy Clark at The Grammys, and to perform with all of these women on international, late night TV (including Larissa Maestro and Beth Goodfellow). We want young people and folks of all ages to see all kinds of representation on TV and out in the world”. While many band members come and go, Mandy has known Allison for over 10 years, back when Russell was in Birds of Chicago. “It’s a dream to watch one of your friends finally get something they deserve, and it’s so incredible to see all of Allison’s hard work paying off. Over the last 12 years Dave and I have crossed many paths with Allison and JT in Europe and the U.S. and have shared many shows with them and my band Sway Wild (formerly known as Dave McGraw & Mandy Fer)...and about 5 years ago I also toured with Allison and JT as their lead guitarist in their previous project, Birds of Chicago”. Mandy is playing a bunch of shows with Allison Russell later this year, check out the dates on Allison’s website.
When Fer is not rocking out on late night TV, playing the GRAMMYs or major festivals with Allison Russell, she is on the road with her own project Sway Wild (or at home, creating music on San Juan Island in the Pacific Northwest) with Dave McGraw, Sway Wild’s other half. The duo recently released their song “Highway 89” and is currently wrapping up a 5 week U.S. tour; check out upcoming tour dates here. “Playing live is my favorite. Especially right now, after lockdown, sharing in live music feels so special…when defining the genre of Sway Wild, we can’t really place ourselves under one genre label…we love to rock out and get funky as well as touch on more of the folkier/more intimate moments during our live shows.”. Mandy has been making music with Dave since 2010, but officially became Sway Wild in 2019. The duo has opened for acts like Rising Appalachia and Lake Street Dive. Music has always been a part of Fer’s life. She played piano from 6 to 15, and then picked up the electric guitar. The electric guitar led her to self-expression and discovery of who she is, and what her musical identity is. “I think I’ve known since 15 that I wanted to do this. I went to school, got a degree, and always knew that this was for me. I noticed a lack of women in the shows I went to every weekend during high school and it really stirred me up that women were not given a platform or a chance nearly as much as men were, and that is where I am now, aiming to make a change in this industry alongside some of the most powerful women and musicians in music today, Allison Russell, SistaStrings, Joy Clark, and all other women, past and present, paving the way to be heard”.
Keep up with Mandy on Instagram at @mandyferguitar and @swaywild and for all things Sway Wild, check out their website.