Community profile: Knott what you’d expect
Local musician Liz Knott came to Roaring Fork Valley looking to spread love
Instead of the midnight train, Liz Knott jumped on a Craigslist post and drove a stranger’s silver 1997 Jeep Cherokee car up to Vail from Atlanta. She made the decision to stop pursuing her nursing degree at Georgia State and bring the car up to Colorado the night before she left.
The trip took her two days, and when she completed her move to Aspen in February 2020, it was the first time she’d been farther west than New Orleans.
“It was just kind of (like) this doesn’t feel valuable to me. I feel like I have better things to do,” Knott said.
Her family did not originally want her to pursue a career in music, but Knott said they’ve come around since she moved to Colorado. Knott, 20, has a twin sister who is still attending Georgia Tech and pursuing a more conventional path.
“She’s very much like straight-edge and wants to do all the right things. Which is totally great, I just like to do (unconventional) things,” Knott said.
As a singer-songwriter and guitarist, Knott said her dad did an excellent job of showing her music she wouldn’t have encountered otherwise. She said musicians like Patsy Cline, Roger Miller, Willie Nelson and other classic country Western artists all shaped her into the musician she is today.
“(Singing) is something that’s always come naturally to me. I just can’t help but do it for some reason. … My dad is older, he’s 70 and I’m 20. … so I credit him for introducing me to those (artists),” Knott said.
During that 22-hour drive up from Atlanta in a pre-pandemic world, Knott described herself as being full of dreams for the potential of what was to come. Part of moving to Aspen was for the historical significance the town held, but she now lives in Basalt where she said she feels more connected to the community.
As COVID-19 entered the Valley, her visions of performing for people changed to hours alone in her room practicing for when those opportunities would return.
“Because of the pandemic, I just had hours and hours to myself to play guitar and practice. That was incredibly valuable, and what I’ve found … is people really miss live music so much more than I ever would have thought. … We have been so distanced. At times it feels like talking to another human is so foreign because we’re so used to talking through a screen,” Knott said.
She first began playing music in church, but Knott said her sound draws from multiple genres including acoustic blues, folk and jazz. Her day job is as a server at Aspen Pie Shop, and besides playing music she loves to rock climb and snowboard.
When Knott writes songs she said her process consists of observing the world around her and always leads back to her fundamental goal: spreading love.
“I draw my inspiration from my purpose in life overall is to be able to live. Like, actually be alive, which sounds crazy, but it goes back to living in the present moment. And that’s what I try (to) talk about in my songs. We can overcome worry, doubt and fear and all these things if you just stay present and trust yourself to do the things that you’re meant to do,” Knott said.
Playing for whoever will listen
Adriana ‘Dri’ Liechti is the owner of Craft Coffeehouse in Basalt and a fan of Knott’s sound. Liechti compared her voice to Adele, and how it’s something you wouldn’t expect to hear from her, but once she unleashes it, it’s powerful.
Knott said she mentioned to Liechti one day in October that she played guitar and Liechti told her to go run and grab it, and that was her entrance to the valley music scene.
“Who she is as a human being is a true representation of when she’s playing music, Liechti said. “She’s one of the most compassionate people I’ve ever met, and also moving to the valley by herself, she’s not even 21 and just really trying to make it work with her craft.”
Travis Mullenix, a regular at Craft Coffeehouse and a fan of Knott’s said her voice sounds like the embodiment of when Joni Mitchell meets Ricky Lee Jones, and he sees her continuing to grow as a musician while maintaining her down-to-earth sensibilities.
Since Knott began playing at the coffee shop, Liechti said it’s encouraged more local musicians to reach out to her and offer to play for customers as well.
“It’s really encouraged a sense of community and growth. Like last Sunday, we had Liz playing and this family from LA was there and a 9-year-old who (plays drums), and they started playing together. Even me as the owner experiencing this, it’s like this energy. That music really connects people on this level without them having to say anything,” Liechti said.
Liechti also said Knott will play for anybody who asks, which Knott said is because that’s all she wants to do is share her music with others. When Knott experiences self-doubt about who she is as a musician, she said she reminds herself of why she’s chosen this path in the first place, to channel confidence reserves that sometimes may feel out of reach.
“I know what I sound like, I love my music and not everyone will like it. Not everyone will love it, but because I love it, that’s like the most important thing. I have confidence in that and I want to share it for what it is, and you can take it or leave it,” Knott said.
Knott said she isn’t sure what her life will look like in the next five years, but as long as she’s still able to perform and spread love throughout the community she’ll be doing all right. Her mindset is that everything works out in the end, and that when she finds the right musicians to form a band with, people who know the blues and can share their awareness of the world around them, that will be her next step.
“I play music to spread love mainly. And by love I mean, first of all, love of yourself. Like complete and full confidence and love in who you are and what you’re doing. And then of course love of others, but I feel like it’s easier to love others and harder to love yourself. But loving yourself is like the most productive thing you can ever do,” Knott said.
Knott performs at Craft Coffeehouse throughout the week and from 5-8 p.m. on Sundays for their sushi night. Clips of Knott’s music are available on her instagram @liz_knott, and she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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