"Well I’m all day jobs wrapped up in daydreams
If you’re an outlaw would you keep the engine runnin for me
Against the backdrop of your unfettered fire
I’m just a wisp of smoke climbin’ slowly to the sky"
     -- Lizzie No, "Outlaws"

Like Han Solo, life is full of surprises. Since I’m a … let’s generously say “realist,” I tend to be braced for less than stellar outcomes and try to prepare for whatever fallout might be on its way. Which is why Lizzie No got some very expectation-lowering emails from me the week of her Memphis debut, because despite months of telling everyone I could think of how amazing she is, not a soul had bought a ticket to hear her.

And then life happened, but in a good way. We got lovely press for the show, and I learned a few new things about the Memphis music-attending community’s last-minute tendencies on Saturday nights (I love y’all, but you stress me out!). My expectation of an empty room flipped into a beautiful reality of old friends and new faces.

And from the moment Lizzie walked in, she flowed with a kind, peaceful energy. She’s the first to admit that her repertoire is primarily Sad Songs™️, but she’s able to express struggle with such straight-forward finesse that you feel it in a place that’s deeper and more meaningful. She pursues her subjects with wondering, not wallowing: Why is this happening? When will it stop? How can I change it? What happens next?

If folks showed up expecting a quiet little folk show, they got their own surprise as Lizzie’s bandmates Bartees Strange, Nick Rapley, and Graham Reed brought even more layers to the experience. From mobile harp to electric guitar, the atypical instrumentation brought a whole new dimension to this genre built on tradition.

As we came back from break, Lizzie restarted the show with just her and Graham on-stage for a powerful rendition of “The Killing Season.” This thanatopisical consideration of the black lives cut short by police fire was an unexpected choice to settle the room back in, but Lizzie’s calm intensity created immediate focus and connection.

Even Tina Turner succumbed to Lizzie’s flow as “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” got a searching, soulful remix. But then it all broke loose and the band ripped into the more rollicking numbers in the set, including the feisty farewell of “Channels.”

Lizzie and the boys sent us home with “Deep Well Song,” a sharp-eyed reckoning between expectation and reality, but they left us with much more. The show was a keen reminder of the grace in the middle spaces and the joy that turns up where you didn’t even know to look.


100% of ticket sales for each show go to our artists. Yep. All of it. So if you want to help produce these events and get access to behind-the-scenes extras like live-streams, signed albums, and sitting in on sound check, become a patron for as little as $2 a show. And subscribe to our YouTube channel, too!

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