Sara Willis

Host, In Tune Radio Programs & the In Tune with Sara Willis Audio Stream

Sara is the long-time host and producer of In Tune, Maine Public Radio's music program featuring contemporary singer-songwriters, folk, blues, acoustic rock, jazz, alt country, and world music. In 2018, Maine Public launched the In Tune with Sara Willis audio stream allowing fans of the show 24/7 access to music curated by Sara.

Working from her studio in Blue Hill, Sara's love of the music she plays comes across to her listeners loud and clear. To quote DownEast Magazine, “In Tune… probably should have been rendered obsolete by Pandora, Spotify, and iTunes playlists. However, host Sara Willis outperforms any Pandora algorithm in the art of creating the perfect playlist. While online stations offer predictable suggestions, like R.E.M based on your interest in U2, Willis will teach you that, actually, Tom Jones and Vampire Weekend are a match made in heaven.”

Ways to Connect

Ana Egge's It Is The Kiss album artwork

Sara's In Tune Pick of the Week

Week of 8.23.19
It Is The Kiss

Sara's In Tune Pick of the Week

Week of 8.16.19
Cancel The Sun

Eilen Jewell - "Gypsy"

Aug 9, 2019
Gypsy album cover

I was very happy when I opened the envelope from Signature Sounds records and found the latest album from Eilen Jewell, Gypsy. I've always been a fan of her eclectic mix of surf-noir, early blues, classic country, folk and 60's rock. This, her 9th studio album, is all originals except a Pinto Bennett cover and she moves from new sounds, old sounds, electric driven rockers, tender ballads and a protest song. It's interesting that musicians are using, once again, their music to speak truth to power. This record is stellar, her band is tight, and she plays electric guitar for the first time in the studio. The songs are beautifully crafted and her vocals perfect.

You'll be hearing this on In Tune a lot!

Information on purchasing Gypsy

Echo in the Canyon Soundtrack album cover

I haven't had a chance to see the documentary Echo in the Canyon yet, but I love the soundtrack. The film follows the explosion of creativity that came out of LA's Laurel Canyon in the mid-60s as folk went electric. Think The Byrds, The Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield, The Mama's and the Papa's, Love, in other words, the California sound. If you don't know these songs, it's a great way to find your way to the originals and if you know them well, it's fun to hear these new versions. Jakob Dylan is featured along with Beck, Cat Power, Regina Spektor, Fiona Apple, Eric Clapton and Stephen Stills and Neil Young (who were there at the time), and Norah Jones. These songs are the basis for so much both musically and socially. And they are gorgeous! Can't wait to see the film, I'll be trying to sit still in my seat.

Listen and/or order Echo in the Canyon on

The Black Keys Let's Rock

The thing I love about The Black Keys is that they are old school rockers, but they sound like 2019. They pull from the '50s and '60s, but they make a new and fresh and exciting sound. Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney have taken from the past and now make it theirs. I love their new record Let's Rock. It's pure fun. There's not a song over four minutes, one of the characteristics of early rock songs...get to the point! Great hooks, try and listen to it without moving, you can't.

Details on where to hear and/or order Let's Rock from

David Wax Museum's new album, Line of Light, is a collection of songs that not only give us great tunes, but there's depth in them. Sometimes I hear a melody before the lyrics or the other way around. It's such a lovely thing when a song has a melody that gets into your pores and then, after a few listens, you discover the lyrics do too. Some bands have poets for frontmen and this band is one of them. Lovingly produced by Carl Broemel (guitarist for My Morning Jacket and Ray Lamontagne), it's full of variety. Songs that rock and ballads that seduce you.

I'm all in for this record and it's wonderfully creative sounds.

Details on where to hear Line of Light from the David Wax Museum website

Keb' Mo - "Oklahoma"

Jul 8, 2019

Summer and blues are natural companions. That's why I want to recommend the new album by Keb' Mo, Oklahoma. The lead single, "Put A Woman In Charge," features Rosanne Cash and "Don't Throw It Away," Taj Mahal. Keb is a smart songwriter and he's not afraid to talk about the issues, which he does with compassion and respect. Also, He writes really great tunes to sweep the song along. It's all a piece for musicians like Keb' Mo, music is for singing your heart, whether it's a straight-on love song, or about refugees, pollution, political power. He's also a great guitar player and his voice is both sweet and strong. This is a record you can put on, anytime and you won't want to skip a single track.

Plus, you'll be keeping cool.

Purchase or listen to Oklahoma from Concord Records

One of the things I love best about my job is the thrill of discovery. Every now and then, I pull a cd out of the pile, put it in the CD player and am completely blown away. That’s exactly what happened with the CD from Yola, “Walk Through Fire.” From the first song through to the last, it has it all. Powerful singing, great songs, and playing. I should have had a clue when I saw that it was produced by Dan Auerbach. He doesn’t mess around. When I think of soul music, I think about singing your soul…and that is what Yola does.

Sometimes a summertime record doesn't have to have a hook filled list of songs. There are days when it's nice to slow down and breathe a little, especially here in Maine where things can get a little crazy in the summer. Bill Callahan's new album, "Shepherd In A Sheepskin Vest," is the perfect soundtrack. Its poetry, sung. In the most intriguing and particular way. The songs are funny and poignant and real. It's minimal approach allows the sweetness and wry humor to be a little like a talk on the back porch with a friend. A friend you like.

Purchase Shepherd In A Sheepskin Vest from Rough Trade

Willie Nelson is 86 years old. And his art is just getting stronger and more beautiful. His new album Ride Me Back Home, is another gem for the crown. There are some great new originals and the songs he covers, he makes his own. It has to be the greatest honor for a songwriter to be covered by Willie Nelson. As you would expect, there are some pointedly political songs and of course, some of the gorgeous ballads that he is famous for. His band, some of who have been with him for years, just play so naturally and beautifully. And when Willie starts to play Trigger, the most distinctive guitar out there, well, it makes the heart swell. Honestly!!

Willie is a national treasure and this record is just more proof why.

Purchase Ride Me Back Homeon Amazon

I always feel a little guilty when I listen to a record over and over. I'm supposed to be checking out the piles of CDs that appear in the mail every week, not getting obsessed with one record. But it does happen and that's how I feel about Tyler Ramsey's new CD, For the Morning. I just want to put it on repeat in the house or sneak out for a long car ride so I can just listen. It makes me feel like it's 1974 and Neil Young and Paul McCartney just made a record together. Lovely, beautiful playing and great songwriting?that's all I'm ever asking for!

Purchase For the Morningon Amazon

Jenny Lewis rocks. She knows how and she’s really good at it. She’s not scared. She reveals and revels. It’s kind of great too, her band, Ringo Starr, Benmont Tench, Jim Keltner. The big boys. She’s not intimidated, but they might be! All I know is, I’m going to the party with Jenny.

OK, it’s been a tough spring. Cold, rainy, and slow. So that’s exactly why I intend on playing lots of music from the new album by Vampire Weekend, Father of the Bride. It’s full of great melodies, and as you would expect from Vampire Weekend, interesting rhythms and instrumentation. Not to mention some lovely duets with Danielle Haim. There’s not a bad song on it and no surprise that it’s currently at number one on the Billboard charts. Take a drive with Vampire Weekend, even if it’s rainy and cold, you’ll feel warm.