Hoopla

Singer Lissie found inspiration in Iowa, returning some of that at Blue Moose Tap on Saturday

BILL REYNOLDS

Singer/songwriter Elisabeth Maurus, who records and performs under the name Lissie, will bring her music to the Blue Moose Tap House in Iowa City on Saturday night (2/16).
BILL REYNOLDS Singer/songwriter Elisabeth Maurus, who records and performs under the name Lissie, will bring her music to the Blue Moose Tap House in Iowa City on Saturday night (2/16).

California is a destination for recording artists, among other people. Iowa is typically a birthplace or a stop on a tour for musicians.

Journeys to the Golden State have inspired many songs, among them: Phantom Planet’s “California,” Led Zeppelin’s “Going to California” and Counting Crows’ “A Long December.” A songwriter has yet to craft a tune called “Iowa Dreamin.”

Despite all of that, Lissie, aka Elisabeth Maurus, left California for northeast Iowa in 2015. Maurus, 35, lived in Los Angeles for five years.

“It was a good time, even with all of the desperation in that city,” Maurus said. “I was young and it was a good place for me to be then.”

She spent the next seven years in Ojai, Calif., and established herself as an emerging recording artist. Maverick Records Chairman Guy Oseary signed Maurus, who toured with Lenny Kravitz and Ray LaMontagne. She also performed at the Bonnaroo Music Festival.

“That was a great experience,” Maurus said by phone from Virginia. “It was cool, but the best part was having the chance to showcase my songs in front of big crowds.”

Her 2010 catchy folk-rock album, “Catching a Tiger,” hit the top 5 of the Billboard Folk Album chart and peaked at number 12 on the UK album chart. Lissie established an audience in Britain.

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Maurus, who will perform Saturday at the Blue Moose Tap House in Iowa City, has consistently crafted catchy folk tunes for such albums as 2013’s “Back to Forever” and 2016’s “My Wild West.”

Her latest album, “Castles,” which dropped last March, finds Maurus adding some electronic flourishes to her moving, melancholy songs.

“I had a very loose approach to this album,” she said. “I was up for anything. I was inspired working in this portable, computer-based setting. I wrote a lot of the melodies on synthesizers. It felt right. I really liked not being stuck with my guitar.

“It was time to do something different. I was inspired working on this album in Iowa since I enjoyed the solitude. It’s quite a transition. It’s nothing like California here and that’s fine.”

Folks tend to stay once they’ve settled in California, but Maurus decided to buy the farm, literally. She purchased 10-acres of farmland in northeast Iowa.

“It was an impulsive thing to do, but I knew it was the right thing to do,” Maurus said. “It just feels right there. I always romanticized Iowa farm life. I like the way the grass smells and I like the pace. It’s really beautiful.

“Most people around the country have no idea how cool Iowa is. They fly over Iowa. They should check it out, especially a city like Iowa City. But then again, I’m a Midwest girl. I grew up close to Iowa. I relate to the people and the area.”

Maurus came of age in Rock Island, Ill.

“I’m a Quad Cities girl,” she said. “I left right after high school but growing up in the Midwest has an impact on you and there are certain things that stay with you. When I moved to Iowa, it felt like I was coming home.”

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Performing at the Blue Moose will be akin to a hometown show since Maurus will have friends and family at the concert.

“The show in Iowa City will be extra special,” she said. “There’s no doubt that show will be a lot of fun for me. That’s one date I circled on the calendar. Iowa is my home state.

“It might be hard to believe but I always knew that someday I would buy a farm in Iowa. It’s a dream that I made happen. I couldn’t be more content than when I’m at home, which is a magical place.”

Get Out!

WHAT: Lissie, with Roscoe & Etta opening

WHERE: Blue Moose Tap House, 211 Iowa Ave., Iowa City

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday

TICKETS: $20, 19 and over, bluemooseic.com

ARTIST’S WEBSITE: Lissie.com

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