The Shiz

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Marriage Equality may not have reached the “bon temps” state of Louisiana, but that hasn’t stopped Liz Hogan and Lilli Lewis from joining in music and matrimony.

A quick youtube search on the Lilli Lewis moniker will reveal plenty of earnest little understated morsels from the artist, and comments like “Most slept on black folk singer. I listen to her when I want to be high on my... more

Marriage Equality may not have reached the “bon temps” state of Louisiana, but that hasn’t stopped Liz Hogan and Lilli Lewis from joining in music and matrimony.

A quick youtube search on the Lilli Lewis moniker will reveal plenty of earnest little understated morsels from the artist, and comments like “Most slept on black folk singer. I listen to her when I want to be high on my soul,” followed by the inevitable “why haven’t I heard of you before?” That could be because for the last 5 years, the deceptively shy soul/folk songstress from Athens, GA has been living in Louisiana, making “hallelujah and shake your booty” music with The Shiz, an original roots rock and soul band said to have “enough energy to power a large city.” (indie-music.com)

The almost newly-wedded Lewis and Hogan formed The Shiz in January of 2009 when they moved to Liz’s hometown of Hammond, LA after spending one and a half years working at a Buddhist retreat center in Northern Colorado. Hogan had been denied employment with a wilderness therapy program in Arizona that she had been recruited for on the grounds that her marriage was not recognized by that state, and that her relationship went against organizational policy. Facing the start of an economic crisis after having spent all their savings attempting to relocate for that job, forming a rock band seemed to be the only reasonable thing to do.

Hogan, herself a folk artist to the bone, with a penchant for silt rivers and old songs in minor keys, says they found their indie rock alter-ego because “being an artist and being gay in small town Louisiana makes people want to be loud sometimes…well, more than sometimes.” The two were already mutually inspired by the likes of Jeff Buckley, Nina Simone, Indigo Girls, and Toshi Reagon, but on long road trips across the country they began to discover deeper resonances in their respective musical languages. Liz shared artists and icons like Mark Knopfler, Tom Petty, and her personal giant, Neil Young, while Lilli handed down the likes of Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder and Giant Steps himself, John Coltrane.

Hogan and Lewis found in each other’s writing, a compulsion to speak on weighted truths more elusive than what they tended to hear from their peers, and when they finally started writing together, they found the substance in their differences made it real. They called their collaboration The Shiz, mostly to close the door on taking themselves too seriously, and released their first eponymous EP as part of the 2009 RPM Challenge.
A debut release "Where We Stand" was released later that year, and their most recent full length studio album "Meet You in the Morning" is now available at http://theshiz.bandcamp.com.' target='_blank'> http://theshiz.bandcamp.com.

Hogan and Lewis now reside in New Orleans, LA where Hogan is completing an MFA in Poetry from the Creative Writing Workshop at the University of New Orleans. Lewis is a freelance musician/composer and manager of Elysium House Records, a boutique label specializing in releasing “innovative, soulful music” informed by the Southern American aesthetic.

Lewis and Hogan say that the band name first chosen to keep them from taking themselves too seriously now serves as a reminder to keep investing in “things that are good… things that matter.” They feel despite what they see a mass media culture trying to sell them, art still matters, music still matters, and people pouring their everything into something for no other reason than the love they may hold for it or for each other still matters. Any music born in that room is what the band band proudly calls Shiz Rock.

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