Guitarist Craig Smith walked out on stage wearing his newly purchased shirt from Rockmount Ranch Wear (a legendary Denver store known for their unique signature embroidered apparel). The shirt was similar to the one Jack White sported on the iconic White Stripes’ album cover Elephant. It wasn’t a coincidence because Smith plays in Lillie Mae’s band. She has performed on several of White’s solo projects. Not to be outdone by Smith’s shirt, Lillie Mae wore a shiny black metallic outfit accented by a sparkly sash. She even had white fringe dangling from her sleeves similar to Smith’s.
During the lockdown, Lillie Mae’s musical family performed a weekly live stream from Nashville that supplied her fans with a much needed musical fix. Viewers got to know her brother Frank Carter Rische, her sister Scarlet Rische, and even their dogs. I was excited to find out her brother joined the tour. Lillie Mae’s latest album Other Girls was produced by the legendary Dave Cobb whose produced Brandi Carlile, Chris Stapleton, and Jason Isabell. The majority of the set list were songs from that album.
The song Golden Year started the show with Lillie Mae on acoustic guitar and Frank Carter Rische singing harmonies. The siblings sang a haunting “La la la la la la la la la la” in between the versus. Lillie Mae’s distinctive quiver in her voice during the tunes Whole Blue Heart and Terlingua Girl emphasized her impressive tone. Craig Smith and Frank Carter Rische effortlessly took over lead vocals for a few songs while Lillie Mae wowed the crowd with her fiddle playing. There was even a Waylon Jennings cover of Cedartown, Georgia thrown in the mix. Bass player Geoffrey Muller and drummer Aaron Goodrich backed the band like a steady locomotive.
The band swirled psychedelia string sounds around Lillie Mae’s spoken word portion of the song Love Dilly Love making it clear this wasn’t your typical country show. Over the Hill and Through the Woods was the only tune played from her previous album Forever And Then Some. Lillie Mae is clearly looking forward and not back. This makes me excited for what the performer has in store next. The bands’s guitarist Craig Smith confessed he bought three other shirts from Rockmount. So at least, he can show off more fancy garments on future tours.
The crowd that was still lingering around the bar quickly gathered around the stage when the Boulder, CO based band Sturtz started the night’s music. Lead singer Andrew Sturtz’s striking vocals blended perfectly with Courtlyn Carpenter’s cello playing and Jim Herlihy’s banjo picking. They played songs from their recently release album You’ve Done This Before. Sturtz joked his melancholy lyrics was fueled by his depression from his Michigan upbringing. The songs Quarter Life Crisis and I Remember the Day are still echoing through my head. Their impressive cover of Radio Head’s Karma Police convinced me that going forward that tune should only be played with a banjo. I look forward to hearing the full band since bass player Will Kepper was not able to make the gig.
See you at the next show. I’ll be the one wearing the signature embroidered Rockmount shirt with white fringe.