Everyone needs a friend who can direct you toward the best music and my friend is Josh Muddiman, Big Mouth Pod Caster and local musician currently working with The Racket Club. A few years ago Josh told me I had to check out Lilly Hiatt. I’m no dummy, so I quickly downloaded her stellar album, Trinity Lane (2017). I’ve been a fan ever since. I have been anxiously waiting for a chance to see her live! Unfortunately the same year I fell in love with her hard to pigeon hole music that dang pandemic hit!
Genre escapes me when I try to describe her style, it definitely has rock and roll sensibilities, but Lilly’s voice and some of the instrumentation has tones of country, but wait... is that a synthesizer? See what I mean?! Finally, my day is coming this Friday, at The Southgate House Revival! I am so excited to hear her in person!
Yes, Lilly is the daughter of John Hiatt, a fan favorite around here. I remember enjoying his set at Tall Stacks some years back. The two collaborated on a vinyl release for Record Store day in 2019. If you are a fan of John Hiatt, this would be a good way to meet Lilly’s voice and style, singing her dad’s tune, “You Must Go,” followed by her dad taking lead on her tune, “All Kinds Of People.”
While trying to survive the lockdown, like the rest of musicians and music lovers, I tried my hand at the live-stream performance and I watched a ton of them as well. It was the closest thing to being at a show or playing a show and it was a vehicle for survival during that time of isolation. Now, here we are, after last summer’s false start where things were feeling nearly normal, only to quickly be reminded nope, not so fast! We are creeping back into the world, dipping our toes in the joy and magic of live shows again. I got to talk to Lilly a little bit about that as she is out on her second run since this all began.
I asked Lilly, to describe what it’s like now at live shows. What is she noticing? What is different? Is it different? “It’s hard to say what is my perspective vs. what’s real but, from where I’m standing things are different. I was intimidated at first, but now I’m excited by it.” Lilly said that audiences are very engaged at her shows, like maybe we are appreciating the experience of being able to enjoy live music a little more. Lilly had done some FB live sessions, which I caught, before being able to tour again. “I didn’t really like doing that. I don’t like sitting in front of the computer. That’s why I didn’t get a 9-5 job.” She did say she’s not opposed to live shows being streamed at this point, but that it’s so much better getting back out on the road.
Lilly did make good use of the time off during the pandemic. She had just released her album, Walking Proof in March of 2020. I asked her if it was depressing not being able to tour to promote that new album. She said it hurt a bit but then you move on. She ended up going through a lot of life changes alongside the isolation of the pandemic. She used music to process those feelings, “Writing makes me feel strong.”
The album that resulted is Lately. When you check out Lately you will notice a difference in the sound in terms of the vocals and the “softer” sound of that offering compared to her previous albums. Lilly recorded this at her friend, Kate Hadrup’s home in Nashville. “We were both going through some of the same things,” so Haldrup played drums, co-produced and engineered that album. They recorded vocals and guitar first and then added in the rest of the instrumentation. Kind of like doing it backwards. Usually you track the low end, drums and bass, then instruments and vocals last. Lilly said building around the vocal instead of the other way around you wouldn’t push to match the instruments. The vocals shine.
If you go to the show expect a full sound. Lilly will be rockin’ her Rickenbacker 360, but trading off for an acoustic for a few tunes. She will be joined by bandmates; Luke Fedorko (drums), Robert Hudson (bass) and Josh Halper (guitar). Opening the show is duo, The Harmaleighs. Tickets are $15/$18 dos, ages 18 and up.