Now more than ever, public media is essential. Give to WOSU.

The Salty Caramels (from left): Emily Ng, Molly Winters, Sarah Overdier, Paige Vandiver

Born in Grandview and raised in Dublin, Molly Winters is a Columbus gal. Her love of music, especially the classics – The Beatles, Willie Nelson – drove her determination to start a band. So in 2010, she formed The Salty Caramels.

“But it was like one gig,” Winters says. “And it just didn’t really work.”

So she tried again with the same band name.

“The first girl group, everyone kind of went their own way,” she says of the line-up that included Angela Perley and Bree Frick. “We didn’t play for very long – it was like a year and a half – and I wanted to keep it going.”

Already embedded in the local music scene, Winters cobbled together a third group, all women, and got everyone together one night in 2012 to play. And this time, it stuck.

Bassist Emily Ng, singer-songwriter Sarah Overdier and drummer Paige Vandiver joined Winters on guitar, with several guest appearances by less common instruments like a saw, glockenspiel and kazoo. Layering their voices in harmonies, the musicians became known for blending pop, folk and retro rock into earworms.

By then, the city was infatuated with Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams and the local company’s flagship salty caramel flavor, which would ultimately spark a food trend. It wasn’t long before Columbus fell for The Salty Caramels, too, and the salty-sweet flavor combo became the name of both Columbus’ quintessential ice cream and band.

The lineup hasn’t changed since that night in 2012, but the musicians’ lives have. They moved out of Grandview and into the suburbs, getting married, buying houses and having babies. While they’re playing fewer shows than in previous years, the band released its sophomore album, Baby Blue, in 2017 and has plans to write more.

The Salty Caramels joined us in our studios to perform three tracks from Baby Blue and to share stories. Keep reading to learn what the band name means to the musicians now.
—Emily Thompson

Broad & High Presents: “Safe” by The Salty Caramels

Meet the Musicians

Molly Winters
Vocals, guitar

From: Dublin, Ohio
Fave local venue: Natalie’s
Fave local acts: The Spikedrivers, Happy Chichester
Influences: The Shangri-Las, The Honeys, The Beatles, Willie Nelson

Sarah Overdier
Vocals, guitar

From: Michigan
Fave local venue: Natalie’s
Fave local act: The Middle Rats
Influences: Sara Bareilles, Ingrid Michaelson, Carole King, Joni Mitchell

Emily Ng
Bass, vocals, viola, saw

From: Hilliard
Fave local venue: Natalie’s
Fave local (recent) act: Doc Robinson
Influences: Punch Brothers, Andrew Bird, Brandi Carlile, Car Seat Headrest

Paige Vandiver
Drums, vocals

From: Missouri
Fave local venue: Natalie’s
Fave local act: The Devil Doves
Influences: Tom Petty, Soundgarden, The Temptations, Willie Nelson, Punch Brothers, The Avett Brothers

Broad & High Presents Web Exclusive: “Beach Bums” by The Salty Caramels

Fill in the Blank

If you like ___, you’ll like The Salty Caramels.

Paige: Secret Sisters

When I’m not performing, I’m ___.

Sarah: Drinking wine.

Molly: Watching kids.

Emily: Working.

___ is Central Ohio’s best hidden gem.

Paige: The first thing that pops in my head is the Metro Parks, because I think we have a just awesome metro park system.

Sarah: That’s a good answer. Emily is always the leader of the band who gets us out and active. Emily leads the Caramel winter hiking.

The best food in Columbus is ___.

Molly: I mean, there’s so many pizza options.

Sarah: I like Condado.

Paige: I could name so many good restaurants.

Sarah: What’s that one that you took me to?

Emily: Fukuryu Ramen.

Sarah: I mean, Cameron Mitchell covers a lot.

Molly: Aladdin’s.

Sarah: I like Barcelona – it’s one of my favorite restaurants.

Paige: Alana’s used to be my favorite place. Basi (Italia)’s the bomb – yeah, that place is great.

Molly: Basi’s one of the best. The Avenue was really good.

Emily: I mean, Natalie’s. We keep on eating food there whenever we play a show.

Pineapple on pizza is ___.

Sarah: [Gasps] Horrible. Against the law.

Paige: Delicious.

Molly: I like it.

Emily: I’ve grown to like it.

Broad & High Presents Web Exclusive: “Beer and Lemonade” by The Salty Caramels

On How The Meaning Behind the Band Name Has Evolved

Molly: I think when we first named the band, it was kind of, like, the beginning of the salty caramel explosion. Like, even just that flavor of ice cream wasn’t really as popular as it is now, as well as even Jeni (Britton Bauer) was – she was big, but she wasn’t huge like she is now. She was branching out. She, you know, worked with us on a lot of just crazy events, even with this [current lineup].

Paige: Yeah, she recently sponsored our T-shirts.

Molly: Yeah, they really have backed us from the beginning. But not only that, I feel like the whole salty-sweet comparison, we’re always like, you know, women are salty and sweet. And I think with this [lineup], we really, like, define salty and sweet from song to song. It was like, “OK, this is a very salty song.” And, “OK, this is a very sweet song.” Whereas with the [original lineup], it was just a name for the band. It wasn’t, you know, like, defining our music as much as it is now.

Sarah: I think just with like any songwriter, you have to exaggerate your feelings. And so, you know, salty and sweet are exaggerated flavors – two sides of the spectrum. So you know, a lot of our salty songs are tongue-in-cheek and in good humor. But then there are some – I guess it’s salty, but it’s really just more passionate. And so they’re all very, like, rich. There’s a lot of metaphors for our songwriting in there.

Molly: And we do have more salty in this group than ever. I don’t know, it’s like we have more sass, I think.

Sarah: Coming of age – we’re just more comfortable with ourselves and more confident.

Molly: Yeah, I think it’s a good thing.