Photo credit Heidi Ross
Elisabeth Maurus, better known as Lissie, is folk-singing royalty in Minneapolis. Well, make that Minneapolis and Norway. “I don’t know what that is, but there's some kind of mentality that Scandinavian people seem to like me.” But (surprise!) she’s actually Swedish. After growing up on the Illinois side of the Quad Cities, she got restless and made the big California move that many singers make. She spent 12 years there making her music and a name for herself. She has nothing but good things to say about her time in Ojai, but one day she decided very quickly and specifically that she wanted a farm in Northwest Iowa, and that’s exactly what she did. “I feel like this is where I belong. I miss the seasons, and the people are nice and down to earth, and I miss being around family.” And she doesn’t just own a farm; she’s living the farm life, at least during the several days a month that she actually gets to spend time at her little haven. Already, she’s grown cucumbers and grapes, which she proudly displays on Instagram (her bio is “iowa wannabe farmer ,, oh & a musician”), and has spruced up the place with some fresh paint.
Lissie made a stop at the Pantages in April, did an invite-only show at Icehouse in May, and now she’s coming back to the Cedar in October. But she doesn’t just love the Twin Cities because it’s so close; she loves it because it loves her. She’s been played consistently on Cities 97 and The Current, and has sold out more than one show. Her tour in April came just days after Prince died, which brought an environment of a sort of celebratory mourning, besides the energy that her Minnesota crowd always brings. The raw emotion reflected in her set list as well, most of which was from her newest album My Wild West. The last song on the album, Ojai, was created the night before she flew out to look at properties in Iowa. “I love it so much because I think it’s an end and a beginning.” The album wasn’t even originally supposed to be an album, but kind of just fell into place. “If I feel emotional or have something to say, I’ll do it and I’ll express myself but if I try to turn it into too much of anything it doesn’t go as well.”
Although Lissie is now only a three-hour drive from Minneapolis (which she calls her biggest U.S. market), she has yet to spend as much time here as she’s wanted. She was snuck in the back of First Ave. for the all-night dance party in April, she walked in the dead of winter to meet a member of The Pines (a Minneapolis-based band that she loves), she gets to have dinner with family whenever she’s here, but now she has bigger plans. “I’ll just come up some weekend and make friends and hang out.” And hang out she will, at the Cedar Cultural Center on October 5. Tickets $28.50, thecedar.org