Classic folk music venue, The Ark, welcomed Lily Talmers and friends to the stage this past Sunday for a performance that was all I expected it to be and more. Their Midwest tour had three earlier shows in Michigan before landing here in Ann Arbor, and will continue on with six more shows, eventually ending in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Opener John Cushing started the night off beautifully, gathering the larger band, including Talmers, on stage in just his second song. Not only was this a group of talented musicians, but also clearly a group of friends who loved and supported one another. Together, the band cultivated a space of comfort and familiarity that the audience easily leaned into.
Talmers and Cushing brought along with them from Brooklyn Aidan Scrimgeour on the keys and Aiden Cafferty on bass. With them joined Ann Arbor’s David Ward (drums), Ben Green (trumpet), and string quartet of Lauren Pulcipher (violin), Julia Knowles (Cello), Courtney Lubin (violin), and Madeline Warner (viola). The group was in constant conversation with each other and the audience, both in words and in the music they played. Talmers’s voice floated through the space in that haunting and clear tone that we know and love about her, making sure to give space and credit where it was due to each one of her bandmates. Her family, old classmates, students, and some people who she had never met had come together to cultivate this space; it is not an overstatement to say each person felt essential to the experience.
As someone who loves Talmers’s music, I had to bring something physical home with me — a double CD with her latest two albums: Hope is the Whore I Go To and My Mortal Wound. I feel so fortunate to have seen this group live; as much as I love listening to her music on Spotify, there is something so grand about seeing Talmers and the full band of strings and horns all in the same space. Each instrument seem to transform the music in a new way. The simplicity of just Talmers and her guitar felt extremely vulnerable and delicate; as more instruments joined, there was a soothing strength in the culmination of sound.
It would be a mistake not to go listen to Talmers if given the chance — her kindness, passion, and love is as breathtaking as her music. I also highly recommend going to see a show at The Ark — it is an intimate space here in Ann Arbor and completely non-profit. Words do not do either justice so, please please please, go immerse yourself in this experience in any way you can.