Releasing your debut album after 17 years in the music business might suggest you’re not much good, but Lillie Mae Rische is still only 26.
Before going solo she has been in two different family bands, touring America led by her father, Von Trapp style, as a young girl, then nearly making it in the Nashville scene as Jypsi with her brothers and sisters. More recently she’s been fiddling in Jack White’s band and singing with the former White Stripes star on his Lazaretto album. He released her beautiful folk/country/bluegrass album, Forever and Then Some, on his Third Man label earlier this year.
Experience counts for a lot. Still looking absurdly young, with her recent mohawk grown out into a boyish crop, she played her violin loosely and relaxed, holding it low and forwards as though trying it out for the first time. She also strummed it and switched to acoustic guitar for the wistful Loaner.
Older brother Frank is still playing guitar with her, and along with rhythm guitarist Craig Smith, that was it for this show. “Maybe one day we’ll be able to afford to bring a full band here,” she said. Without drums or much in the way of volume, she struggled with chatter from the bar in this small room, and lost the crowd during quieter songs that ought to have held them rapt.
Songs that had more grit, such as Over the Hill and Through the Woods, fared better, and the men on stage did a decent job of replicating the sweet harmonies of her recordings. By the time the closing song, To Go Wrong, had shifted into a bouncing hoedown, the musicians expertly duelling at length, the audience was back on side and it looked like all that practice was paying off.