Fresh voices, original music big part of 17th annual Rhythm & Roots | News

After spending 23 of her 26 years on the road playing music, Lillie Mae Rische jokes that she’s almost ready to retire — but not really.

Rische, who played the Piedmont Stage on Saturday, is one of a substantial number of singer/songwriters bringing fresh voices and original music to the 17th annual Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion. Crowds flocked to stages across downtown, taking in opening acts and headliners during the second day of the three-day music festival.

On stage, Lillie Mae plays a mean fiddle and brings a sassy energy and soaring vocals to her performances, which seem to match her appearance: close-shaved hair, a nose ring and tattoos on each arm. After growing up performing bluegrass and gospel music in her family’s band, she continues paying her dues — playing a Nashville club every week and being a road warrior on the weekends. Her solo career is headed in a direction built around original music.


Lillie Mae performs on the Piedmont Stage Saturday afternoon at the annual Rhythm & Roots Reunion in Bristol.

“I’m just following a natural path, following whatever road is laid out for me. I’ve had a lot of opportunities. The music is hard to describe; it’s hard to explain,” she said after her Piedmont Stage…

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