By Jim Simpson, photos by Ashlee-Jean Trott
Lissy Rosemont came back home on Friday, literally and figuratively. The Atlanta native and current D.C. resident recalled coming to Eddie’s Attic as a child with her father, a local fixture on the Bluegrass scene years ago — and here she was headlining.
Due to the intimate confines of the venue, the Junior League Band frontwoman brought only a bare essential version of the band: herself (vocals, banjo and harmonica) and phenomenal guitarist John Lee. Contrary to what one might expect, this didn’t diminish the energy, but rather magnified the raw and awesome talent of the two musicians.
They galloped through selections from Jellyroll, the band’s third release, appearing equally at ease on the country-folk “Hold On” and pop-tinged Bluegrass of “Don’t Be a Stranger Tonight” — the only disappointment was the missing fiddle solo that appears on the album. Would have been nice to hear that live.
Rosemont and Lee showed an impressive versatility by deftly moving from the captivating and sultry jazz number “The Best is Yet to Come” to the jamming Bukka White cover “Shake ‘Em On Down” to “Curious Thing,” a bouncy pop/folk number written for her “brown-eyed, red-haired” fiance: “There’s my heart on the floor/A tall drink of water knockin’ at my door.” Rosemont seems to have a firm grasp of her roots, as she covered old bluegrass and Carter Family standards as well as Graham Parsons’ “Sin City.” John Lee was flawless on acoustic “travel” guitar and rocked a twangy/bluesy Telecaster.
The arc of life and sense of family was prominent in the room, as Rosemont introduced her former high school English teacher, and then mentioned that her sister was — at any moment — about to give birth at nearby Piedmont Hospital.
As an encore, Rosemont finished up with a perfectly tear-inducing a capella version of the Irish folksong “Red is the Rose.”
Local singer/songwriter John Pringle (sounding like a subdued Eddie Vedder) opened with a smart set of thoughtful, candidly honest love-found-and-love-gone-hopelessly-terribly-wrong songs, that were at times humorous and bittersweet. His debut full-length, Midnight Mass, is expected soon.