Set on Fire by the Fiddle

By Kara Martinez Bachman

 

When phosphorus strikes the side of a matchbox, something flaming is set loose. For many musicians, picking up their instruments for the first time was something akin to striking a sonic match inside their hearts.

This was certainly true for Elizabeth “Lizzy” Long, vocalist and fiddle player of The Little Roy and Lizzy Show.

“Fiddle always set me on fire,” she said, reminiscing about the early days of learning her instrument, dating back to when this Georgia gal was just eight or nine years old. “I got a fifty-dollar J.C. Penney fiddle for Christmas and never put it down. I drove everybody nuts,” she said, laughing about how her early practice grated on those around her since she never stopped. She also played piano, guitar, autoharp, bass, banjo, and mandolin. Fiddle, though, was her main passion.

“It was just a thing,” she explained. “Most musicians just have that thing that you can’t explain. It’s like a yearning inside.”

That yearning may have been influenced by her great uncle, who played the fiddle. There was one problem, though; her great uncle wasn’t into bluegrass, so she “had to learn the bluegrass style from any way I could get.” 

One person from whom she has certainly learned a lot about bluegrass music is bandmate, banjo and guitar player, and Georgia Music Hall of Fame and IBMA Hall of Honor member, Little Roy. The duo are joined in The Little Roy and Lizzy Show by supporting musicians Perry Poirier (bass), Andy Stinnett (guitar) and Matthew Songmaker (mandolin). The band does anywhere from 60 to 120 tour dates per year.

In addition to touring, there’s also the duo’s namesake, the Little Roy and Lizzy Music Festival, happening for its eighth year on April 30 and May 1-2 in Lincolnton, Georgia. 

“Our fest isn’t a straight-up bluegrass festival,” Long explained. “I didn’t want our festival to be restricted to a certain style, because I like everything.”  It is for this reason that the 2020 lineup includes not just well-known bluegrass acts such as Del McCoury and Rhonda Vincent, but features other genres as well.

“Our festival is so down-to-earth and so high-energy,” Long promised.

 

roy and lizzyShe also promised quite a bit more coming to fans in the next year. The band will be doing two bluegrass cruises in January of 2021; will continue touring; and according to Long, the band “will probably be back in the studio sometime by the end of the summer.”

Long also releases some music on her own.

“I’ve been in the studio,” she said. “I’ve got a new record coming out in May. A solo album.”

It’s been a rough few months for the fiddle player, as she’s just getting past a back surgery that’s caused her trouble. She’s still not in tip-top shape but keeps on truckin’. She’s still rubbing her bow on strings and picking her heart out, but from a seated position for the time being. In a few more months, once she’s back to her old self, she’ll be standing up and delivering the music from her feet as she always has.

That’s where she hopes she can bring fans — to their feet. It’s not a difficult task for an accomplished musician such as Long. She’s played with the likes of Mac Wiseman, The Lewis Family, and even Earl Scruggs. She’s won a Dove Award for a duet she did with Rhonda Vincent; has gotten accolades from various organizations; has had one of her solo songs hit #2 on the Billboard Bluegrass Charts, and is one of the youngest fiddlers inducted into America’s Old Time Fiddler’s Country Hall of Fame. Needless to say, Lizzy Long has got some fans. 

For this vocalist and musician, the admiration is a two-way street.

“We appreciate them,” she said, of her supporters. “We couldn’t do it without the fans.”

 

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