Lillie Mae: The Folk Singer We Need
Wednesday; also known as hump day, the midpoint of the week. Sometimes it is the most miserable after Monday. My most recent Wednesday was not as miserable as most Wednesdays past, because I got the treat of listening to Lillie Mae at Club Café.
That morning I began listening to her 2017 album, Forever and Then Some, as I knew I would be seeing her that night. I liked what I heard, which was an interesting mixture of Country, Blue Grass, Folk, and Appalachia. Her music is mixed in a style that I have not normally heard; it sounded very acoustic and raw. I began the album in the morning and finished it in the afternoon, and became very excited for the show I was about to see.
I arrived at Club Café a little after seven PM and the music had not begun to play yet. Due to a miscommunication, I almost did not make it in, but the wonderful ticket woman/bouncer Janae, let me in the venue. I took a seat at the bar and looked around to see a packed house. I was a bit worried as I had seen summer musical acts on weeknights before to disastrous results. It seemed this would not be one of those nights. As I waited for the music to begin, I saw a young woman enter the bar with a short pixie cut, wearing a black dress, high top white converse, a brown leather belt, hooped earrings, and a broken heart tattoo on her left shoulder (among others). It was a very unique but awesome style that the person before me wore well. At first, I did not recognize her but then, as she began to talk to a man that I had overheard was her uncle, I realized it was the Lillie Mae in the flesh, standing a full two feet away from me!
Shortly after, the opener began to play. He was dressed in sneakers and a mechanic’s jacket. This man was known as T. Mitchell Bell. He was an older gentleman who gave off Appalachian vibes immediately. He played an acoustic set with just his guitar and harmonica. His songs featured a variety of topics including Coalminers, family history, and tree hugging. He was very kind and was the perfect opener for the act we were about to see. As he ended his set, I went over and talked to Ms. Lillie Mae at her merchandise table. I introduced myself as a WPTS member and said I was excited to see her and really had enjoyed her album that day. She was very cordial and sincere.
Soon after, she began her set. I will confess I prefer recorded music over live music, solely as a personnel preference, but Lille Mae is one of the few artists that I have seen live that I thought was better that way. Her live performance allowed me to truly capture her very raw voice and her soft, but high cowgirl drawl. The music was very rhythmic and ethereal and overall gave very bluegrass, folk, and Appalachian vibes.
She played both violin and acoustic guitar during the set and shredded both, and also had a band with her. Her brother played electric guitar, while three other gentleman played rhythm guitar, bass, and the drums. Later in the set, her brother and her did two songs solo. Her brother even sang one of them and gave off a Tyler Childers vibe. Also, during her set, I learned that she also yodels! Overall, it was a fantastic performance and really made my day. I hope she comes back to Pittsburgh, as she has earned at least one fan, likely more, and I’m sure in a short time she will have many more.