Country singer Lillie Mae may be beginning her career as a solo artist, but she has been a musician since she could hold a fiddle. After performing with her family her whole life, Lillie Mae recently began developing her own sound with the help of Jack White and Third Man Records. A fixture in the Nashville music scene, Lillie Mae is known for being a master on the fiddle with an enchanting voice.
Lillie Mae was one of the Third Man Records musicians who played at the exclusive 333 ft. Underground concert, a one-of-a-kind concert experience that was a celebration of Tennessee’s deep musical roots and natural beauty. Hosted by Jack White, the artists performed at the beautiful Cumberland Caverns in an auditorium 333 feet underground. Leading up to the big cave concert, Lillie Mae told us about some of her favorite places around Tennessee.
Layla’s: Downtown Nashville
This funky bar in downtown Nashville was where Lillie Mae first broke into the city’s country music scene. “My oldest sister Amber Dawn had started playing downtown. She met Layla and she asked if her family band could come and play sometime. And so they all did for a couple weeks. And then she said, ‘Well can we bring my little sister, too?’” Although Lillie Mae was only 12 at the time, her family’s band became a live music staple at Layla’s, performing there as often as six nights a week.
Smack dab in the middle of Nashville’s Honky-Tonk Highway on Lower Broadway, Layla’s is in a section of downtown famous for live country music. Always packed with amazing country music acts, bustling nightlife and avid country music fans, this section of town is one of the liveliest parts of Nashville. Layla’s is one of the more intimate live music venues on the strip and always has top-notch musical talent. With some of country’s biggest names and Nashville’s best up-and-coming artists performing here every night of the week, it’s one of the coolest places to see live music in Nashville.
It was while working at Hot Diggity Dog that Lillie Mae met Jack White, changing the course of her musical career. Lillie Mae worked at the local hot spot with her sister around the same time Third Man Records opened its second Nashville location next door. Located in an up-and-coming neighborhood, Hot Diggity Dog was the first of many new businesses to open in the area. Jack and his partners at Third Man Records have always been strong advocates of reviving underdeveloped neighborhoods and creating new jobs, so the area was the perfect place to expand to. After Lillie Mae demonstrated her immense musical talent and expert fiddle skills to Jack, he asked Lillie Mae to join his all-female band during his solo concert tour, beginning their long-term musical partnership.
While Hot Diggity Dog is somewhat off the beaten path in downtown Nashville, the restaurant has become a go-to spot for locals. Serving up some of the best hot dogs in the city, this cozy restaurant draws a crowd with its Chicago-style dogs and variety of creative toppings.
From promoting her first solo album to playing shows around Tennessee, Lillie Mae rarely has a moment to sit still. While her schedule can get a little hectic, Lillie Mae loves how much the city pushes her forward every day. “I think if you're in Nashville, there's a hustle here that you're involved in … all the energy of all these souls out there working really hard to get somewhere. I think you just feed off it and it just, like, kind of fuels you.”
When Lillie Mae does have time to relax, Mud Island in Memphis is one of her favorite places to unwind. “We've gone to visit my great-aunt Martha in Memphis for years. Memphis is incredible. I love it. My favorite times in Memphis have been hanging out on a houseboat at Mud Island.” Located a little more than a mile from downtown Memphis, Mud Island is a peninsula surrounded by the Mississippi River. Mud Island features the Mississippi River Park, which has bike trails, a monorail, pedal boats and picnic areas. In addition, the park features the Riverwalk, an exact scale model of the lower Mississippi River.
Check out a concert at the Mud Island Amphitheatre, a 5,000-seat outdoor venue overlooking the Mississippi River. Because Memphis is the birthplace of rock ’n’ roll, the amphitheater features some of music’s biggest names and rock ’n’ roll icons, with a can’t-miss lineup every year for its summer concert series.
From performing at honky-tonk bars in Nashville to relaxing at Mud Island with her family, Tennessee is a constant source of music inspiration for Lillie Mae. Check out her favorite places in Tennessee firsthand and see how the spirit of country music permeates every inch of this amazing state.