You’re breaking our hearts: A begrudging farewell to Lily in the Weeds

[Written by Mike Burkett for The Sounds of Bustown on June 21, 2019]

Everyone can probably point to at least one song that brings memories of heartache rushing back from the past. In severe cases, a band’s entire discography may even be forever tainted by love lost.

Since becoming aware of their presence in the Columbus music scene a few short years ago, the band Lily in the Weeds has been something like that for me. In this case, it’s not so much that the music sparks memories of some specific heartbreak. Instead, the group’s blues-rock style and retro swagger calls back to all those artists who have walked out on us over the years.

Lily in the Weeds performing. All photos by Kris Misevski

Lydia Loveless, once the torchbearer of a country music revival that ran like a rich vein of gold through the Columbus alternative scene - lured away by the glitz and glamor of Nashville. Angela Perley, the soul child in the wide-brimmed hat, still stops by once in awhile, but has also largely moved on to bigger stages.

More than any of these roots-music darlings who have given Columbus a collective “dear John,” the defunct blues trio Gold From grief ripped our hearts clean out when they announced they were calling it quits in 2018, right around the time that Lily in the Weeds (styled as LITW, for brevity’s sake) was rising to prominence on the local bar circuit.

Michael Furman of Lily in the Weeds

It’s not just the presence of guitar hero Michael Furman in both Gold from Grief and LITW that makes the heartbreak feel so potent. Nor is it simply the superficial similarities in style the group shares with those bygone greats. The pain comes in knowing that once again, we’ve opened our battered hearts to another to another vintage-tinged darling. And again, they’re leaving us - just like all the rest.

Without descending any deeper into melodrama, let me simply state that LITW, like others before them, will be sorely missed by fans of powerful, blues-driven rock in Columbus. The group recently announced their breakup and the subsequent departure of Furman and vocalist Alex Burnsides to another locale, where career opportunities await.

As a parting gift, LITW embarked on a farewell tour which has taken the 4-piece (rounded out by bassist Andy Bailey and Drummer Matt Bailey) through some of the venues that they have called home throughout an all-too-short existence.

Recent months have also seen the release of two standalone singles from the group, titled “Nick of Time” and “Bat My Eyes.” Each track is an improvement on the group’s solid, 6-track “High Road” EP, which was released in 2018. On the new cuts, the sense of group cohesion, as well as robust songwriting, allow the talents of each member to shine.

Alex Burnsides of Lily in the Weeds

It is on these latest tracks that Burnsides has fully stepped out of the shadows of those aforementioned female blues-rock vocalists who preceded her. She now sounds more comfortable than ever with her own voice, exuding the kind of hard-fought confidence that comes only with experience.

As always, Furman’s guitar work on these singles drips with vintage, tube-amp-driven goodness. We’re talking licks that you could put up against any guitar god on the national stage today (hide your kids, hide your wife, John Mayer). When this man leaves Columbus, the city’s collective guitar-skill stock price is going to drop a full point (call your broker now to move your investments accordingly).

Andy and Matt Bailey of Lily in the Weeds

While LITW is history, all may not be lost. Rumor has it that rhythm bros. Bailey & Bailey are sticking around these parts. Only time will tell what the future may hold for this dynamic duo, but odds are they’ll resurface somewhere big. Imagine what some upstart group could accomplish with such a seasoned rhythm section.

Whether you have yet to see LITW live or you’re a hardcore Weeds head from way back, you won’t want to miss the group’s big send off, as they perform one last rager at the 5th Annual Gnarbecue Music + Arts Festival at Woodland’s Back Yard, July 6-7.

Go ahead, Lily in the Weeds. Leave us like all the rest. We may never love again.