For the North Carolina duo of Lizzy Ross and Omar Ruiz-Lopez, Studio A was the perfect setting to show off their song-writing and performance skills on Nov. 7, 2019. A nearly sold out crowd was treated to all original songs that were often humorous and spoke about everyday life. Lizzy’s strong vocals and guitar were backed up perfectly by Omar’s harmony – both vocally and instrumentally.
Self-described perfectionists, the duo used the time between songs to both tune and tell interesting stories about where their songs come from and share a bit about themselves. Their song about wearing “Daisy Dukes” in the summer and sitting in tall grass drew knowledgeable laughter from the audience when Lizzy mentioned ticks, poison ivy and the necessity of sunscreen while living in the south.
The evening’s music was as varied as the pot-luck buffet that preceded the concert, invoking many genres including Irish, Americana, country and the blues, all made unique by the duo’s interpretation. The audience was especially taken by Lizzy’s vocals – both her strength and range – that often brought Joni Mitchel to mind. During their encore, sound engineer Garrett Milich used some old school mixing techniques to full advantage creating the illusion that Lizzy was singing in a huge cathedral. It captivated the audience and was the perfect ending for an evening of many sonic highlights.
Photos by Charlie Reilly and Bill Rice
Before the concert, Violet Bell visited Mary Munford Elementary School. Check out their visit. »
About Violet Bell
Omar Ruiz-Lopez is quieter than Lizzy Ross. He considers his words, then speaks in terms of ideals, of acoustic instruments, of teaching children to play music and of bringing things of beauty into the world. Indeed, each half of Violet Bell has dedicated his or her life to the pursuit of music … Ross as a songwriter who briefly tried her hand in Nashville before returning to more receptive soil in North Carolina, and Ruiz-Lopez as a music educator and sideman who plays a staggering array of instruments (violin, viola, cello, guitar, mandolin, banjo). From his work with Kidznotes, a nonprofit that offers instrument lessons to underserved Durham schoolchildren, to his collaborations with Triangle-area musicians and membership in bands like Jonathan Byrd and the Pickup Cowboys (past JAMinc/In Your Ear favorites), Ruiz-Lopez was a busy musician for years before Violet Bell. Yet he was tired of being a sideman. He had much more to contribute.
“For a long time I had wanted to work with something I felt really aligned with,” he says. “Lizzy came, and all of the sudden there’s this depth while there is light.”
Ross thinks melodically and lyrically, while Ruiz-Lopez thinks in tones, textures and colors. To him, an arrangement is a Rubik’s Cube – a satisfying challenge that is solved by different changes, sections and timbres. As a multi-instrumentalist, Ruiz-Lopez has a broad sonic palette at his disposal. A consistent soundscape throughout a record is uninteresting to Ruiz-Lopez, as is undue obedience to genre. As simple as it sounds, his tools are rhythm, harmony and melody.
“We need things of beauty and not just products,” he says. “If people open to the arts and creativity in general, we can make the world a better place and more colorful. The tribute is to beauty when you make song and raise a joyous noise.”
We hope you’ll join for a thoughtful and moving evening in the acoustic intimacy of In Your Ear’s Studio A on Thursday, November 7th for the collaborative joy of Violet Bell.