Checking in with Liza Bance

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What were you doing when we called?
I was just walking my puppy, Ginger—a little boxer-beagle mix. We went jogging along the Rivanna Trail this morning, and now we’re headed back to the house.
 




Bluegrass/country singer Liza Bance released her debut album, How Long Must I Wait, in April.




What are you working on right now?
I’m basically trying to organize the songs that I’ve got that haven’t been recorded yet. It’s sort of sad, because I’ve written a lot of songs that have a real life to them, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to record all of them. If I can’t, I want to give them to people who can. I released an album in April, but there’s still a lot more that need to get out there.
 
If you could have dinner with any person, living or dead, who would it be and why?
It would be Vince Gill. He has a song called “Liza Jane,” and he let me sing it with him when he came to town a couple years ago. I used to take lessons with the banjo player of Old School Freight Train, and I ran into him at this show. As he was leaving, he handed me his backstage pass and asked me not to hassle Amy Grant. O.K., sure. So I walked up and told her my name and asked if I could sing “Liza Jane” with him, and she said, “Sure honey.”
 
What is your first artistic memory from childhood?
I’ve been keeping journals since I was able to write. By now, I have so much material that it’s just a matter of figuring out what can be honed into a three-minute song.
 
Item you’d splurge on?
When I’m making music, I like to bring in the right people to do it. For me, splurging can mean paying an extra bit to get someone to play a show, or flying my banjo player down here. I just opened my own business account at the bank. It feels cool to have one just for music.
 
Do you have any superstitions about your art?
Five years ago my dream was to be able to write my story in songs. It happened after I set that intention and projected that energy into the world. Life is so short that I feel like we have to take advantage of every minute—even if it means being a starving musician. I’m just reminded of that every day because of how much I miss my brother. He passed away a couple years ago and I found this guitar he had, and playing it just offered so much hope. It was a great way to channel all the sadness and all the pain into something positive.
 
Tell us about a recent concert, exhibit or show that has inspired you.
Most of my inspiration is biblical. I get inspired every week in church. In terms of an album, there’s this band out of Boston called Chasing Blue and they have an awesome new CD out. Bluegrass musicians like Kathryn Caine or Bill Monroe inspire me all the time. When I hear their harmonies I just melt.
 
Who is your favorite artist outside your medium?
My favorite writer is Anne Lamott. She wrote a book called Bird by Bird, which is all about tapping into your creativity, and as soon as I started it I just dove in head first. She’s got amazing, amazing talent as a writer, and just speaks the truth. In my songs I speak more through metaphors. It isn’t easy being brutally honest.
 
Locally, who would you like to collaborate with?
It’d be really fun to collaborate with some of the Infamous Stringdusters. I see them whenever I get the chance. Sometimes I co-write with people in Nashville over Skype, which is a really fun and interesting process.
 
What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
If I knew I wasn’t going to pass out and fall on my face I would find a way to play in front of thousands of people. It’s the best natural high there is. I used to have stage fright so bad that I’d get petrified playing in front of 10 people. But I prayed about it and kept at it and it got easier and easier.

 

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