The Sweet Lillies' music is, first and foremost, heartfelt and collaborative. Those defining traits are given life by the quartet of musicians who make up the Lillies, Julie Gussaroff, Becca Bisque, Dustin Rohleder and Jones Maynard. Together they have combined their individual strengths to deliver powerful narratives of life in song. With their newly formed lineup of guitar, viola, upright bass, drums and ethereal vocal harmonies that float like a dream, the Sweet Lillies' music has a hard hitting original flavor with a forward-looking eye. The Sweet Lillies have incorporated all of their cumulative life-experiences into their music, song-writing, and artistry, crafting an uncommonly-beautiful style they have christened “String-Americana” - a nod to the band’s all encompassing musical tastes and willingness to experiment with genres. As Gussaroff explains, “some musicians learn from teachers, some learn from family members, and some are self taught. Some musicians are classically trained, some come up through folk, some draw from multiple springs, from hip hop through pop to bebop. In the Lillies' all of these skill sets are valuable, relevant, and appreciated.”
The Sweet Lillies are built upon their collaborative ideals and are always ready to share a stage or develop a project with any musicians who share the same “no-holds” barred creative approach. This has made each one of their inventive, energetic live-shows a wholly unique event as setlists are changed on the fly, songs are given new life and shape, and guests are always welcome to join in the creative explosion. Those on-stage partnerships create a space for incorporating instruments, arrangements, and styles that are not necessarily typical of the genre, but that help create a rich, compelling sound that defies easy categorization. Over the years they have been joined onstage by a number of legendary performers including Sam Bush, George Porter Jr., Peter Rowan, Sally Van Meter, Andy Hall from the Infamous Stringdusters, Kyle Hollingsworth and Jason Hahn from The String Cheese Incident, Jennifer Hartswick, and Natalie Cressman from the Trey Anastasio band, among many others. Andy Thorn from Leftover Salmon, who has sat in on many of those live adventures, says, “It’s always a joy to play with the Sweet Lillies. Over the years, I’ve seen them evolve from a folk-and-bluegrass group into a genre-bending powerhouse. Today, at a Lillies show, you’ll hear everything from their beautiful, soulful originals, to creative reinventions of your favorite 90s hip-hop tracks. They’re always ready to have fun - on stage and off - without losing an ounce of their professionalism.”
The Sweet Lillies were born from Gussaroff’s desire to form a band in which each member would be an equal participant in terms of songwriting, singing, and creative input. After years of accompanying other artists, serving as a side player, and writing songs for others, multi-instrumentalist and classical trained vocalist Gussaroff wanted to establish a true musical-collective that would highlight the best qualities of all involved. In 2014 Gussaroff met Bisque, who was a classically trained violist. The two found an immediate and deep musical connection and The Sweet Lillies were born. In 2017, at a campground jam at the Hangtown Ball, they heard guitarist Rohleder. That night the three played for what they remembered as, “Ten magical hours.” The following year in 2018, Rohleder joined The Sweet Lillies full-time. Most recently, Jones Maynard has come on board on drums, completing Gussaroff’s vision.
Since forming in 2013 The Sweet Lillies have released three albums, 2016’s self-titled release, and 2018’s A Lighter Hue produced by Leftover Salmon’s Vince Herman. Their third and latest album, Common Ground, produced by Railroad Earth’s Tim Carbone, was released in 2021.
The band’s newest release, Equality, was produced by Grammy-award winner Chris Pandolfi of The Infamous Stringdusters and will be out on Americana Vibes this summer. Equality is an intrepid collection of songs that fully represents the current and evolved sound of the band. The instrumentation is primarily what you will hear at a live show with the exception of Pandolfi on banjo for a few select tracks and Kyle Hollingsworth of The String Cheese Incident on keys. The record truly sounds like a live Sweet Lillies experience, with Jason Hann of The String Cheese Incident filling in on drums for the entirety of the album.
Powerful rapping next to layered vocals and instrumental solos are only one of the aspects that give this album an original sound. Through the recording process, Pandolfi challenged the band to find their more ‘savage lillies’ side which is present throughout the music. Each song is a unique composition that blends into the concept of the album which is Equality. Social Justice, self exploration, and evolution of the spirit are the guiding feelings of this new record.