Washington DC is a city of professional transients, drawing folks from a wide range of regional and cultural backgrounds; it can’t always be easy for an artist to find the common denominator in a crowded Saturday-night bar. Nonetheless, the Lizzy Ross Band did just that this past weekend at Hill Country Barbecue, electrifying the basement venue through three energetic sets of country, blues, soul, and jazz-inflected Americana. The centerpiece of the act is of course Ms. Ross, a Chapel Hill native whose vocal chords, songwriting, and onstage persona are a force to be reckoned with.
Lizzy’s song catalog navigates a disparate cross-section of American music, whether the 70s jazz-folk stylings of a tune like “Everyplace,” the southern gothic lament of “Black River,” or the head-banging hard rock of “Bones.” All the more amazing is that all of these influences manage to come together with a sense of stylistic unity, never alienating the listener with a diversion too jarring. And that voice, which can shift from hushed balladry to full-bore soul in the same verse — she even whistles in perfect pitch.
But it’s billed the Lizzy Ross Band for good reason; the songwriter makes sure to surround herself with musicians that complement her talents. The current lineup includes Max Palmer on drums, Brett Hart on bass, and Luis Rodriguez on lead guitar, a trio more than up to the task of keeping the groove strong through such a diverse and unrelenting setlist. Rodriguez in particular brings monster chops to the stage, blending influences that include rock, Texas blues, and funk, all with killer tone and creative phrasing.
All in all a highly recommended live act. If you catch a show (or even if you don’t), make sure also to pick up a copy of the Lizzy Ross Band’s most recent album, Read Me Out Loud.