All genres, all heart

Colorado string band The Sweet Lillies to rock The Longshot Feb. 20

By Lyndsie Kiebert-Carey
Reader Staff

Julie Gussaroff, founder of Colorado-based string band The Sweet Lillies, couldn’t imagine her life any other way than on the road, making music and sharing it with anyone who will listen.

“It’s a drive that, if it’s in you, it’s strong,” she told the Reader. “It’s a strong drive for us.”

That drive is bringing the band to The Longshot on Sunday, Feb. 20, with the local Brenden Kelty Trio opening the Mattox Farm Productions show, which is set to begin at 7 p.m.

Photo by Molly McCormick.

The Sweet Lillies is composed of Gussaroff on upright bass, guitar and mandolin; Becca Bisque on viola and percussion; and Dustin Rohleder on guitar. All three contribute vocals, and all members play a part in the band’s songwriting and overall creative process. 

The result is a sound heavy on “genre-bending,” as Gussaroff put it, featuring everything from “Americana and folk to hip hop, rock ’n’ roll, bluegrass” and more. The Sweet Lillies, while giving the appearance of a string band, go beyond the stereotypes of that image.

“We love all types of music,” Rohleder said, “so, when we write, whatever we’re feeling, we write that. We’re not stuck on any one thing. We don’t think of ourselves that way.”

Just as all three members of The Sweet Lillies bring a different musical style to the mix, each brings a different background. Gussaroff said that she draws inspiration from her childhood in an impoverished part of New York City to her songwriting. For Bisque, an upbringing in the mountains informs her creations. For Rohleder, farming, land and family are inspirations. The combination of these experiences have a common thread, according to Gussaroff.

“We write a lot about the experience of being a person, basically, in different capacities,” she said. “The human experience — whether it’s being in love, whether it’s missing a loved one, whether it’s building your first home, or how humans interrelate with each other and with the world around them.”

The Sweet Lillies will stop in Sandpoint as part of a busy tour across the West sharing those stories of connection with soulful, foot-stomping string music as the conduit.

“We hope that people feel how much we love what we do,” Gussaroff said, “and how excited we are to share it with all of you.”

Doors open at 6 p.m., and music starts at 7 p.m. with openers Brenden Kelty Trio. The Longshot is located at 102 S. Boyer Ave. in Sandpoint. Tickets are $15 for general admission, $8 for youth. Purchase tickets at Eichardt’s Pub will have beverages for sale at the show, and Smokesmith Bar-B-Que will offer food. Capacity will be limited, and music will be played through the Longshot’s outdoor speakers for those who want to enjoy the tunes from the lawn. Listen to The Sweet Lillies at

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