Lucy Wainwright Roche first came to my attention as one of the Emerging Artists at Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in 2008. The audience voted for her return as the “Most Wanted” the following year. She also won the New Folk award at the famous Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas that year. Since that time, Lucy’s music, songwriting skills and stage presence have made her popular here in the United States and beyond. She has toured with her father, Loudon Wainwright III, her mother, Suzzy Roche, Rufus Wainwright her half-brother, and Martha Wainwright, her half-sister as well as other notable musicians such as Dar Williams. Lucy is known for her honest and humorous banter on stage and leaves her audiences with big, wide grins and hearts full of joy.
To learn more about Lucy, visit her website.
You grew up in one of the royal families of music. As a young child, was music just part of your daily life? Do you remember being around one or both of your parents as they were working on writing songs, practicing, or even going to recording sessions?
I spent a lot of my childhood on the road with my mom’s band, The Roches. We toured all throughout the US in a van and my uncle tour managers and opened the shows – and sometimes my grandmother sold CDs. It was a total family operation and so I was surrounded by the music and the business all of the time. When we weren’t on the road, I would often be present at Roches’ rehearsals and recording sessions by both my parents. I really loved growing up that way – it was all I ever knew and it was fun and never boring!
I’m curious about the first time you picked up a guitar. Did you take to it naturally?
I first tried to play the guitar when I was about 7. I am left handed and so my mom and my aunt got me a left handed guitar. I wasn’t into it at all – the guitar is a hard instrument for a kid I think… although they also tried to get me to take piano lessons and I wasn’t that into that either! I didn’t really start to take an interest in playing music on my own until I was in high school. At that point I started playing the guitar in order to play songs I loved and that was how I actually learned to play. I now play a right handed guitar… but I still write with my left hand.
What was it like growing up in Greenwich Village? Did you have any special places to hang out?
Greenwich Village is a great place to grow up. I guess you miss out on some things (I wasn’t exposed to a lot of nature!) and you get the benefits of others. One of the great things about growing up in NYC is that you get to walk a lot. My mom and I used to walk about 20 blocks to school every morning and back every afternoon and of course there is always a lot to see on the streets of New York.
You pursued a career in education and worked with young children. What did they teach you?
I taught second and third grade for two years in New York. I loved teaching – it’s a really creative and intimate job. It’s similar to performing in some ways. I guess a lot of both jobs is about communication and connecting with people. One of the things I miss the most about teaching is that I loved being a part of the day-to-day lives of children and families. In my day-to-day life now, I have very little consistent interactions with individuals. Every day I am in a new town and so my connections are more fleeting – although still often very meaningful.
You’ve had some great opportunities to work with some of your family members. Do any specific gigs stand out as lifelong memories?
Oh wow – in terms of family gigs I would probably have to say that our family tour in Alaska stands out as… very memorable! A bunch of us in the Wainwright/McGarrigle/Roche clan traveled to Alaska and did a run of shows where the audience traveled with us on a train and on buses. Alaska is so exotic… and family vacations can be adventures! Yikes! We had a fun time, though. We are all on the road so often that it is always a blast to get everyone together in the same place.
What do you have planned in 2017 and beyond?
I hope to get a new album out in 2017 and to keep touring. I’ve been lucky enough to see my audience growing bit by bit every year and I’m really grateful for that. I’m excited for the next chapter!