“Thirteen thank yous
Honey in my heart
In my heart
Honey honey in my heart
You took me in
Gave me medicine
You said come now sit down here beside the fire
And tell me why you’re wandering by
When I came in the door
You saw me looking for
Honey in your heart
You brought it to my lips
Gave me a little sip
Of honey in your heart”

     – Violet Bell, “Honey In My Heart”

Approaching our second show in The Green Room at Crosstown Arts, we were making another leap into the unknown. Going from an artist making his sixth visit to the series to a band making their Memphis debut was a little like starting all over again. This would be our first experience trying to lure an audience to a brand-new space to hear a brand-new act. 

Brand new to them, anyway. I reached out to Violet Bell more than a year beforehand to schedule our show and had spent the time since then getting familiar with their work, seeing the anticipation of their new record, and celebrating their ongoing evolution as a band. By the time the show rolled around, I couldn’t wait to meet Lizzy Ross and Omar Ruiz-Lopez, because they already felt like friends. 

And from the first moment we were finally acquainted, I quickly realized that these two have never met a stranger. I’ve been lucky to work with gracious, uplifting artists without exception, but having two of them paired up and working in harmony in every sense of the word creates this bubble of love that just carries you along. 

We set the room up for our pre-ticketed amount of guests, but one of the many happy surprises of the night was the number of folks who just decided to come by and check out the show. Many were Crosstown residents and regulars who just saw the listing and likely did a little googling on their own, quickly discovering what I did the first time I heard Violet Bell: they’re a little burst of magic you want in your life. 

Of course it makes sense that most bands are formed by people who were playing separately beforehand, but it’s interesting that Omar has a clear memory of seeing Lizzy play for the first time, and that their partnership formed through his awareness of her as an independent artist. Their collaboration feels totally organic and mutually supportive. 

It was a gift to spend an evening with these two talented creators and feel a room full of people form a new connection with them in real time. The only downside of the entire night was the deeply unfortunate fact that someone walked away with their merch money. Although a good-hearted fan generously overpaid for their purchase after we made this discovery, it was still a painful loss for a touring band.

But rather than be embittered by the experience, Lizzy and Omar used their inherent empathy to turn it into an opportunity to reflect on need and used the loss as a way to raise funds for Action Against Hunger. Even in a low moment, these two led with love, and I’ve never been prouder to be associated with a band.

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