Lucy Wainwright Roche began touring with the Roches folk trio since before she was born. So it’s only natural that the grown-up Lucy is hitting the road as a duo with her mom.
But it’s never just two cruisin’ down the highways. Lucy’s rescue dog, Maybe, takes up the whole back seat of their Outback.
“There’s just something very soulful about traveling across the country,” mom Suzzy (rhymes with “fuzzy”) Roche said in a recent dual interview from her Manhattan apartment, where mother and daughter were rehearsing.
“America can be a beautiful place, and there’s nothing like driving for miles and miles and miles, going past the cornfields or stopping by the side of the road, and the trucks going by — it’s got a lot of depth to it.”
Traveling as a trio “adds another level of intrigue,” Suzzy said, “because we have to stop at dog parks all across the country.”
Black with a bit of white, Maybe may be a Labrador mix. A friend found her at the side of the highway in Atlanta, and Lucy took her home to her apartment where dogs weren’t allowed, putting the dog in limbo. Maybe she’d get to stay, but maybe not, hence the name. Luckily, she did.
Mother and daughter have separate careers, too, so when the road beckons, they travel in harmony.
“We don’t overtax the situation,” Suzzy said. “Actually, Lucy has been on the road with me since she was a little kid. We get along really well, considering that we’re two human beings who have our own rhythms and stuff.”
Onstage, they harmonize in the relative way of families, where it’s nearly impossible to tell who’s singing what notes. Lucy generally sings the higher part, which can be either melody or harmony, while Suzzy takes the lower part. Cedar Rapids audiences can hear for themselves Wednesday night (9/27), when the duo performs at CSPS.
“I’ve always loved playing there,” Suzzy said. “It’s one of the nicest, sweetest places around the country.”
The concert will be a mix of their own songs, the songs they’ve written and recorded together, and some cover songs, so “people can recognize some things,” Suzzy said. “It’s basically a fun night and we have a really good time doing it.”
Suzzy, 60, who got her name when her grandfather accidentally added an extra Z to her Christmas stocking, remembers singing in church as a child. She later fell into the music industry “by accident,” putting out a hat and singing along New York City streets with her sisters.
“We just liked to sing and liked to make arrangements with harmonies,” she said. “I went into labor with Lucy while singing Christmas carols.”
In the ’70s, sisters Terre, Suzzy and Maggie began carving their niche on the folk scene as The Roches, singing together for three decades. It’s been a hard year, however, with the deaths of Maggie in January and their mother four months later.
“My feeling about being 60 was colored by those two events,” said Suzzy, who will turn 61 while on tour. “I don’t even know how to begin to describe it. At this time of life, people can get sick and that’s something that really makes you wake up and realize that every day is important. It sounds kind of cliche, but it’s really the truth.”
Lucy, 35, was born into folk royalty, the daughter of Suzzy and then-partner, Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Loudon Wainwright III. Music was her destiny, but she resisted and spent three years teaching second and third grade before leaving education to heed the family calling.
“I kind of had my fill of it when I was younger and more in it,” she said of music. “Then I went to college and went to graduate school, and during that time, I was not around the world of music really at all, and it gave room for me to miss it a little bit. Then I figured if wanted to give it a try, now was the time, so I did.
“I constantly look back from everything I’m doing and wonder if I’ve done the right thing, but I haven’t ever turned back around and walked away.”
She’s working on a new album, and Suzzy continues to write and perform, as well.
“I’ve been very lucky to be able to work my whole life, so it’s great. I can’t complain,” Suzzy said. “I mean, I do complain.”
“We love to complain,” Lucy added. “That’s one of our favorite touring activities.”
WHAT: Suzzy Roche & Lucy Wainwright Roche
WHERE: CSPS Hall, 1103 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids
WHEN: 7 p.m. Wednesday (9/27)
TICKETS: $17 advance, $21 door; CSPS Box Office, (319) 364-1580 or Legionarts.org
FAIRFIELD: 8 p.m. Sunday (9/24), Cafe Paradiso, 101 N. Main St.; $20 advance, $22 door, CafeParadiso.net
ARTISTS’ WEBSITES: Roches.com/suzzy/ and Lucywainwrightroche.com