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"Lilly Of The West"

Lilly of the West" was formed in 1996 by Lilly Drumeva in Sofia. Shortly after releasing a debut album, the band toured successfully throughout Europe and the US, winning European and international bluegrass music awards. "Lilly of the West" has a large repertoire, including country, bluegrass, swing, jazz and Bulgarian folk music. The band has released 9 albums to date; the latter ("Swings & Heartaches") is a collection of jazz & swing standards from the 1930s/40s.

Current members:
Lilly Drumeva - lead vocal, guitar
Yasen Vasilev - vocal, guitar
Michail Shishkov - Dobro, harmonica
Svoboda Bozduganova -upright bass

Career highlights of Lilly Drumeva and her band "Lilly of the West"

Lilly Drumeva (bandleader, lead vocalist) was born in Bulgaria and was raised and educated in several European countries: Germany, France, Austria, and Czech Republic where her parents worked with the diplomatic service. It was in Vienna, 1992, where she first started to sing country and bluegrass.

She returned to Bulgaria in 1996 and formed her own band "Lilly of the West". A debut album was released, followed by appearances at major festivals in the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, the Netherlands and in the UK.

In May 1998 Lilly of the West performed at the first EUROPEAN WORLD OF BLUEGRASS Convention in The Netherlands and won first place. In October 1998 they performed at the International Bluegrass Music Awards in Louisville, Kentucky, sharing the spotlight with Alison Krauss, Rhonda Vincent, Ricky Skaggs and many others. Lilly was also a presenter during the award ceremony gala and appeared on Fox Television.

In May 1999 Lilly of the West released a second album "Sail on the Wild Wild Wind" on Strictly Country Records in the Netherlands. The songs were recorded live during the band's tours in Holland.

A third album followed in January 2000, entitled "Dear & Kind" which was inspired by the band's native Bulgarian folk music.

After completing a three-month tour in Europe 2001, Lilly took a position with the BBC World Service and settled down in London. She worked with British bluegrass musicians Rick Townend & Rosie Davis, releasing a 6 track CD "Lilly & Rosie".

In May 2003 Lilly returned to Bulgaria where she started her own music show on Retro Radio Network, the largest private station in Bulgaria. She released the fourth album "A collection", featuring some of the most requested songs of the band's repertoire.

In October 2004 Lilly of the West showcased at the International Bluegrass Music Awards (IBMA) in Louisville, Kentucky with additional performances at the Galt House International Suites. Lilly Drumeva was backed by very talented young Slovak musicians: Michal Barok, Dusan Hronec, Filip Bat & Roma Sykora.

In March 2005 Lilly Drumeva toured in the United States together with American musicians (Marshall Wilborne, Jesse Brock, Mike Munford) and graduated from the Bluegrass Leadership Program in Nashville, Tennessee. She released a new CD "Pickin' live", recorded live in the United States. The same year Lilly started her own country music show on Balkan Bulgarian Television.
In May 2005 Lilly of the West showcased at the European World of Bluegrass (EWOB) in Barneveld, Holland and Lilly was elected in the board of the European Bluegrass Music Association.

In April 2006 Lilly Drumeva took a position as music editor on Radio Sofia, part of Bulgaria's State National Radio. In September she started her own country music show "Country with Lilly". She toured also with US mandolinist Jesse Brock in Switzerland, Norway and Lithuania.

In January 2007 Lilly of the West released a new album "Time after time", featuring Lilly's favorite classics from the 60s "All I have to do is dream", "The end of the world", Cindy Lauper's "Time after time", Irish traditionals like "The water is wide", "A walk in the Irish rain", John Denver's "Leaving on a jet plane" and others. The album had great reviews and is currently sold on CD Baby.

In June 2008 Lilly Drumeva teamed up with Czech musicians Lubos Malina (banjo) and Lubos Novotny (Dobro) and performed several shows in Bulgaria and the Czech Republic. In September Lilly visited the United States and performed with The Nob Hill Boys (bluegrass band from Wisconsin) and Al Goll (Dorbo player from Nashville). She also attended IBMA's International Summit, being one of the official delegates from Europe.

In 2009 the band toured successfully in Europe and Bulgaria, performing at Willisau bluegrass festival, Switzerland, European World of Bluegrass, The Netherlands, La Roche Bluegrass festival, France, concerts in the Bulgarian embassies in Prague and Budapest. Lilly Drumeva worked with musicians of the renowned Czech band "Monogram". Lilly & band performed at studio 1 of the Bulgarian national radio, the concert was recorded for the "golden fund".

In January 2010 Lilly released her 8th album, entitled "Lovin' you". Recorded in Sofia and Prague, it features Czech band "Monogram" and "Lilly of the West", Bulgaria. The repertoire is bluegrass, country, swing & Bulgarian folk. Lilly recorded also duets with Monogram's singer/guitarist Jakub Racek. CD release parties were held in Sofia and Prague. Lilly performed also with renowned Irish musicians Paul O'Shaughnessy and Larry Egan in Sofia.

In 2011 the band performed with the Ebony Hillbillies (US) at the National Palace of Culture, Sofia; took part in the first Country Music Festival in Bankya ("Country West Fest"); celebrated its 15 years anniversary at the "Sofia Live Club". They also performed at Greven grass bluegrass festival, Germany, La Roche sur Forron bluegrass festival, France, Bansko jazz fest Bulgaria. They played several concerts in Sofia parks, organized by the city hall. The band collaborated with top French mandolin player Dorian Ricaux. A 10 days European tour has been completed (22 September- 20 October), featuring guest mandolinist Michal Barok (Slovakia).

In 2012 Lilly of the West released their ninth album "Swings & Heartaches". It is a collection of swing and jazz standards from the 1930s, 40s and 50s. Up tempo songs and heart-felt ballads. For the cover Lilly and the band did a special photo shoot with black and white retro photos by star photographer Ivan Kolovos. The same year the band visited Russia and toured in Moscow, Nishni Novgord, Dubna and Ivanovo.

In 2013 Lilly Drumeva was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study country and bluegrass music in the US. She spent four months in Kentucky and Tennessee doing research at prestigious universities. During her stay Lilly performed also with American musicians Al Goll and Andy Wyatt. She had a guest appearance at a concert of western swing band the Time Jumpers, sharing the stage with Vince Gill, Paul Franklin, Kenny & Dann Sears.

In 2014 Lilly released her first book "In The Mood With Lilly - 50 Music Themes" - a music encyclopedia in Bulgarian language. A memorable party for the book launch was held at National Palace of Culture, Sofia. Bulgarian celebrities such as Toma Sprostranov (famous Radio Presenter), Martin Zahariev (Music Critic), Mitko Dimitrov (Director of Radio Sofia) and Vesselin Todorov (Director of Ciela publishing house) made dedicated speeches on stage. Lilly of the West performed during the show illustrating selected chapters of the book. Between June and August the band played several free concerts at the Sofia parks, sponsored by the Municipality.

In 2015 Lilly of the West performed at a big reception, organized by the Irish Embassy, to honor Saint Patrick's Day. The repertoire featured traditional Irish songs, jigs and reels. The band was introduced by Irish Ambassador John Biggar and Lilly had the honor to sing the Irish nation anthem. She performed it in Gaelic language. In October Lilly Drumeva worked as the promoter, MC and musician of the American show "Cowboys And Indians - In Song And Verse". She organized twelve concerts, radio and TV appearances in Bulgaria for a group of American musicians and poets. Featured were also her band colleagues of Lilly of the West. The tour had enormous success and Lilly was hired to organize future shows.

In 2016 Lilly Drumeva released her solo album "Strong Machine". It features ten original songs in the acoustic pop genre. They were inspired by personal life experiences. The album received regular airplay on the Bulgarian National Radio. Lilly's song "You Can Count On Me" reached number 4 on the Bulgarian charts. In August Lilly of the West performed again at the La Roche Bluegrass Festival. In September Lilly played in Slovenia, being a special guest at the CD release party of Slovenian singer Ditka. The show took place in the town of Prevalije and was recorded by the National television. Lilly and Ditka performed together her big hit "Ne bodi kot drugi". In October Lilly of the West celebrated its 20th anniversary. Lilly gathered on stage all the band members through the years. Special guest was Ditka who sang a famous Bulgarian folk song with Lilly ("Oblache le byalo"). MC was Bulgarian radio legend Toma Sprostranov. In December Lilly of the West joined forces with Quarto Quartet (a chamber music orchestra) and gave a Christmas concert featuring songs in several languages. The show took place at the National Palace of Culture and was sold out.

In 2017 Lilly performed as a duo with fellow musicians Yassen Vasilev and Kosta Landjov. The first project featured country and blues hits. The second was dedicated to Irish and Scottish music. Lilly was featured more often on fiddle and mandolin. The second project (Celtic Dream) was very successful and was attended by large audience. Lilly performed also regularly with her band, preparing a brand new jazz and swing program. On 9th of May they performed a special concert dedicated to the Day of Europe, where Lilly sang in 10 different languages. In June she played at the Exposure International Singer Songwriter Festival in Croatia. After that she gave a solo concert in Belgrade and appeared on Serbian TV. In August Lilly appeared at the Tabara Folk Festival in Romania. The same month Lilly of the West took part at the International Bansko Jazz Festival (Bulgaria) and in the Nisville Jazz Festival (Serbia). At the end of August and early September the band performed their regular shows at the Sofia parks. On 30th September and 1st October Lilly organized a unique festival dedicated to poetry and music. It featured singer songwriters from Serbia, Croatia, Romania, USA and Bulgaria. In October Lilly performed at the International Folk Festival Taj As in Lithuania.

Performances in Bulgaria:

Lilly of the West is a famous name in Sofia's live music scene. The band appears regularly in clubs (Flannagan's, Murphy's, Swinging hall, Checkpoint Charley, Tea house, Sachmo jazz club, Fans rock club, 2night piano bar, Studio 5, Sofia Live Club) at parties & receptions (M-Tel, Heineken Beer, Socialist Party), on TV (BNT, BTV, TV 7) & radio (Horizont, Darik, Jazz FM). The band performed at some of the major music festivals in Bulgaria: Salon of the Arts, NDK, Christmas & New year's festival, Apolonia festival of the Arts, Sozopol, Jazz Fest Bansko. Lilly of the West is a popular band among the ex-pat community in Bulgaria, playing concerts for the Embassies of The United States, UK, Ireland, Austria, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, USAID, The European Union Delegation in Bulgaria, The International Women's Club, Bulgarian Jewish Society, Bulgarian - Irish Society and many others.

Some of the major festivals abroad:

European World of Bluegrass, The Netherlands
Dobro Fest Trnava, Slovakia
Donauinsel Fest Vienna, Austria
Inverness festival of the Arts, Scotland
Karl Mai festival Dresden - Germany
Mrangovo Country Picnic - Poland
Paide Shanty festival - Estonia
Musica Latina - Italy
SBMA festival - Switzerland
Big Baer festival - The Netherlands
Athy Bluegrass festival - Ireland
Bohemian Bluegrass Festival Pisek - Czech Republic
Trondheim Country Music fest, Norway
IBMA festival, Louisville Kentucky, USA
IBMA festival Nashville, Tennessee, USA
New Arc festival, Delaware, USA
La Roche Bluegrass Festival, France
Willisau bluegrass festival, Switzerland
Delaware Valley Bluegrass festival, New Jersey, USA
Greven Grass bluegrass festival Germany
Bansko Jazz fest, Bulgaria
Arena Musica Sofia
Country West Fest, Bankya
Nights of the Museums & Galleries, Sofia
Nishville Jazz Festival - Serbiq
Exposure Festival - Croatia
Taj As Festival - Lithuania

What they say about Lilly Drumeva & "Lilly of the West"

"It's utterly captivating with the pure voice of Ms Drumeva ably set off by the band….It's an absolute delight from top to bottom, with both bands, Monogram and Lilly Of The West in top form. It's my favorite record of the year so far and I've no doubt it will stay at the top of the list for a long time to come…" Zeitgeist magazine, UK April 2010
"This highly recommended album is a stunning collection of music and is a 'must have' for your collections…" Bluegrass & more E- magazine, Scotland January 2010
Lilly Drumeva's smooth voice is pleasant and the choice of repertoire has a very good taste! I loved the CD and I will recommend it to bluegrass lovers…." Bluegrass Association of Brazil, March 2010
"This is an excellent CD…apart from being a beautiful young Bulgarian lady, Lilly is also a talented singer…." North England Bluegrass News, UK, February 2010

"Lilly has a very pleasant, wistful voice and her male partners are also good singers and players."
Dirty Linen, USA July 2000

"….'Lilly' of Lilly of the West is Lilly Drumeva, a strikingly beautiful, red- headed Bulgarian singer and guitarist … Singing in a delicate, almost fragile soprano… Original tunes, written by her and the top-notch Bulgarian musicians backing her up on this excellent project… Lilly Drumeva has a very bright future in bluegrass music ...Recommended…"

"…Is she Europe's Alison Krauss? True or not, Lilly Drumeva and her band Lilly of the West have been taking audiences by storm. " Bluegrass EUROPE, 1999 Switzerland

" …Lilly of the West present one of the most accomplished and professional shows in Europe…"
British Bluegrass Music Association, 1998

"…Fresh and natural….Lilly's voice reveals unusual warmth….The stunning beauty is a talented singer, songwriter and guitarist… "
Country Music International, London, 1998

"……Making waves - a Bulgarian woman on the move to change the environment around her…Sawing the seeds of bluegrass in Bulgaria…." Sofia Eco, 1999


"Lilly of the West"- Bulgaria's most unique and interesting band!

Story by Stephanie P. Ledgin

A centuries-old country at the crossroads of ancient civilizations, Bulgaria is home to a unique musical intersection as well. With her genre-defying ensemble Lilly of the West, Lilly Drumeva has pioneered the promotion of bluegrass music in the Balkans and beyond for more than fifteen years. In fact, the versatile vocalist/songwriter/musician has made this her life mission and passion. She backs up that goal with extensive credits. Drumeva has taken America's homegrown genre on tour not only throughout her homeland, but also to a dozen European countries stretching from the United Kingdom to Russia. She has even crossed the Atlantic with her unusual program, appearing successfully in the United States.
Bluegrass - a homegrown American form derived from country, blues and Scotch-Irish music - exhibits qualities that resonate with traditional Bulgarian folk. Drumeva and Lilly of the West have expanded upon this by blending these complementary styles into an engaging repertoire that also includes bluesy ballads and jazzy swing tunes. Founding Lilly of the West in 1996, Drumeva has captivated audiences on such prestigious stages as the International Bluegrass Music Awards show (United States), European World of Bluegrass (the Netherlands), Inverness (Scotland) Festival of the Arts, Bansko (Bulgaria) Jazz Fest, Trondheim (Norway) Country Music Fest, Athy (Ireland) Bluegrass Festival, Karl May Festival (Germany), Musica Latina (Italy), Paide Shanty Festival (Estonia), and in various European embassies, to name a few.
Lilly of the West showcases the outstanding talents of lead vocalist Drumeva who also plays guitar and fiddle, Yassen Vassilev with his driving guitar work and vocals, Michail Shishkov who dazzles on Dobro guitar, harmonica and piano, and Svoboda Bozduganova who anchors the group's sound with upright bass and who also lends vocals. Nine recordings, plus one live performance DVD, released over the last decade and a half have placed - and kept - Lilly of the West in demand for concert, festival, radio and television appearances. The latest CD, Swings and Heartaches, covers classic country-blues ballads, Western swing and a taste of Bulgarian folk music. Its success, supported with rave reviews from journalists around the globe, has secured the quartet's standing in the international entertainment arena. Future goals include touring such countries as Australia, Canada, Japan and Brazil. In the works is a video devoted to Bulgarian folk music, as well as a companion DVD for Swings and Heartaches. Drumeva also continues to develop original material for the band.

2012 Band Photographs.

Yassen Vassilev - guitar, vocal

Lilly Drumeva - guitar, fiddle, lead vocal,

Michail Shishkov (Misho) – Dobro guitar, harmonica, piano

Svoboda Bozduganova (Bodi) - upright bass, vaocal,

Last updated: 18-Sep-2017 10:18 AM