Sarah Swain, who got her first guitar at age 15, is the charismatic leader of the rockabilly band Sarah Swain & the Oh Boys, which plays gigs throughout New England. She’s also one-third of the Greenheads, who habitually kick off the Wellfleet Beachcomber’s concert season each year.
But after a gig — or a long day helping customers at the Frying Pan Gallery in Wellfleet, which she owns with her husband, metal artist Steve Swain — she comes home to Harwich, a quiet beach town away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist destinations throughout the region.
She has an affinity for the robust group of year-rounders who live in this town of 12,000. It’s where she has chosen to raise her kids (ages 11, 9, and 3).
“Sometimes I can’t believe I live in such a quaint, idyllic place,” she said. “There is something intrinsically special about this place.”
Years ago, she founded the Cape Cod Women’s Music Festival, which raises money for the charity she started, the Cape Wellness Collaborative. “When I was looking for a charity to fund through the festival, I couldn’t find one that did the work I wanted to support, so I went ahead and founded it myself,” she said. The collaborative funds services for cancer patients that usually aren’t covered under insurance plans, such as acupuncture. In the years since it was founded in 2014, it has distributed $40,000 in funds to recipients.
Sarah grew up in Marblehead and after college returned there to start a landscape design business. She says she’d never imagined that she would be living year round on the Cape, but when she started dating Steve, who was living in Centerville at the time, it became clear that she would move to be with him. He has family in Harwich tracing back to the 1930s. They lived in Centerville for some time but built a house on his family’s property in 2010.
Although technically a “washashore,” someone who wasn’t born on the Cape, Sarah is about as ensconced in the community as someone can get.
BY THE NUMBERS
The year Napster developer Shawn Fanning graduated from Harwich High School (now part of Monomoy Regional High School)
The amount apiece two decoys (a pintail drake and a Canada goose) carved by late East Harwich artisan A. Elmer Crowell sold for in 2007
Total audience for the 10 full-scale productions mounted annually at Cape Cod Theatre Company – home of the Harwich Jr. Theatre
Years of experience in high school athletics Paul “Spanky” Demanche, the recently appointed head coach of Monomoy football and the former Harwich High School coach and athletic director, brings to the school (Harwich regionalized with Chatham last year)
PROS & CONS
Harwich boasts a bevy of fine-dining destinations on the Lower Cape’s cuisine scene, including Buca’s Tuscan Roadhouse, Ember, The Cape Sea Grille, L’Alouette, Viera, Mooncussers Tavern, The Port, and Twenty-Eight Atlantic. Brax Landing Restaurant is the place for waterfront cocktails and scrumptious brunches.
96, 175, and 66
The number of names on the wait lists of 20-, 30-, and 40-foot boats for slips in Harwich, respectively. The town, a boater’s paradise, has three of the nicest harbors (Allen, Wychmere, and Saquatucket) on the Cape, but you’re going have to wait to enjoy them.