Like the Arkansas River during spring run-off, Colorado’s vibrant music scene continues to gain momentum, producing high-water marks in the quality of bands and musicians performing across the state and gaining attention at the national level. The tributaries feeding Colorado’s musical currents increasingly draw from talent pools characterized by informal jam sessions in local music scenes. Americana band The Sweet Lillies is a good example, having taken root in Golden, where bassist Julie Gussaroff and violist Becca Bisque first played together at a local jam session.
Formed in 2014, the Boulder-based band has already shared the stage with top-caliber musicians like Peter Rowan, Drunken Hearts, Vince Herman of Leftover Salmon, Andy Hall of The Infamous Stringdusters and Kyle Hollingsworth and Jason Hann of The String Cheese Incident. “We’re lucky to play with so many headliners in such a short time,” said Gussaroff.
The band’s name matches their sound with three female vocalists producing sweet harmonies accompanied by folk and jam-grass instrumentation. They will take the stage at 9 p.m. Saturday, March 18, at The Lariat, 206 E. Main St. in Buena Vista.
Gussaroff said the band first formed as “more of an electric version. We rehearsed for a lot of months then started touring almost immediately.” In those days, Gussaroff played mandolin, and a drummer and electric bassist rounded out the group. “They are very accomplished musicians” but are older and have families. They opted out of the touring lifestyle but suggested to Gussaroff that she trade her mandolin for an upright bass. “I never thought I’d be playing bass in the band. … It was kind of accidental that we ended up as an acoustic band, but the sound really lent itself more to the type of songwriting we were doing.”
The band grew to its current five members in much the same way that Gussaroff and Bisque first connected ‒ by playing with other musicians. Banjo player Danjo Lynn joined next, followed by vocalist Melly Frances. Frances was touring in Colorado with a duet when a friend suggested she catch a Sweet Lillies performance. “Someone mentioned to us that she was in the audience and suggested we invite her onstage,” said Gussaroff.
Frances impressed the trio immediately with her upbeat stage presence and musicianship, and when the Lillies invited her to join the band, she promptly moved to Colorado from California. The most recent addition, guitarist Loren Zyniecki, connected with the Lillies in a similar setting, playing as a guest a few times before joining as a full-time band member.
Gussaroff stressed that all five musicians are songwriters, as evidenced by the appeal of the band’s original compositions, ranging from the “The Colorado Song” with its folk harmonies to “He Caught Fire” and its high-lonesome bluegrass influences. Speaking of “The Colorado Song,” Gussaroff said one of the band’s high points so far was having the song selected for use in a documentary film about the Appalachian Trail.
Give The Sweet Lillies’ music a listen here, and don’t drink too much on St. Patty’s Day so you’re not too hung over to catch them live at The Lariat Saturday.