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Steamboat Magazine

Cultivating WonderGrass – The Sweet Lillies

01/15/2019 03:11PM ● By Alesha Damerville

Images from The Sweet Lillies

By Alesha Damerville

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – At eight years old, Julie Gussaroff picked up her first guitar. “I grew up in a very different part of the musical world,” Gussaroff says. From age 3-10, she played classical piano. “It wasn’t what I wanted to do.” Gussaroff found herself neglecting the piano to play Bob Dylan songs on her guitar.  

“When I came to Colorado, it was the first time I saw this genre, this string-band style, being taken to a deeper place,” she says. “I found that, while I may not really have the depth of bluegrass like the String Dusters or that style, I incorporated that style into stuff I knew and ended up creating some sort of a sound, which I wouldn’t call bluegrass music, but string band music – that’s linked to Colorado.”

For the last three years, Gussaroff and her guitar, upright bass and mandolin joined Becca Bisque on viola, percussion and vocals and Melly Frances on percussion, kazoo and vocals in a band they named The Sweet Lillies.

Elements of folk, blues, bluegrass and classical music encompass the string sounds produced by the trio of traveling ladies that make up The Sweet Lillies. As a listener, you can find the influence of other bluegrass bands present in their music. However, their compositions are progressive and experimental, opening a portal to your imagination. 

In the mix of the 200-some shows The Sweet Lillies will play this year, WinterWonderGrass is one they look most forward to. The festival is an opportunity for the band to reconnect with close friends in the bluegrass circuit, both on and off stage.

The sit-ins are a big part of what makes this festival so special. The conversations on band collaborations behind the scenes leading up to the event are reason enough to be excited.  “Because we are a three-part female vocal-driven harmony group, we’re having bands ask us to learn pieces for their songs,” Gussaroff says. “It feels special to get to share those experiences with other people who love music the way that we do.” 

The Golden/Boulder based trio harmoniously blend bluegrass with light and love through their whimsical melodies. For more on The Sweet Lillies, visit