Forlorn Strangers steps on the Common Grounds stage

(left to right) Chris Banke, Jesse Thompson, Abigail Dempsey , Hannah Leigh Lusk, Benjamin Lusk. The band Forlorn Strangers performs at 8 p.m. Sept. 13 at Common Grounds. Members Chris Banke,Hannah Leigh Lusk and Benjamin Lusk lived on a farm in Waco in 2012 while working at World Hunger Relief Inc. Farm. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Forlorn Strangers

By Bradi Murphy | Arts & Life Editor

Many performers and vocalists have stepped onto the Common Grounds stage. Among those is Forlorn Strangers, a band made up of five songwriters who blend to make one distinct harmony. Forlorn Strangers will perform at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

The Nashville-based band is composed of Abigail Dempsey (fiddle, percussion, vocals), Hannah Leigh Lusk (mandolin, percussion, upright bass, vocals), Chris Banke (guitar, mandolin, vocals), Benjamin Lusk (banjo, guitar, vocals) and Jesse Thompson (upright bass, dobro, guitar, vocals).

Banke and the Lusks used to live on a farm in Waco while working at World Hunger Relief Inc. Farm. While in Waco, they wrote many of the songs that are on their new album ,“Forlorn Strangers.” They also performed on the Common Grounds stage as opening acts and at the Waco Downtown Farmers Market.

Hannah reminisced about a time when they were living on the farm and her husband, Ben, wrote the song “Wittle & Pare” on a tractor in a barn during the middle of a thunderstorm.

“He carried his guitar as the storm was approaching,” Lusk said.

Lusk expressed her love for Waco in the song “Bottom of the Barrel.”

“I wrote the song ‘Bottom of the Barrel,’ and one of the lines in there is ‘I left the best of me in Cameron Park,’ because I felt like I was doing the best when I was living in Waco,” Lusk said.

Many of their songs are about discovering personal and communal identity and what it means to have faith, live well and be one’s whole self.

“We speak a lot about getting through hard times – I know that’s something that a lot of people can relate to,” Dempsey said. “Anything from heartbreak to getting out of school and not really knowing what you’re doing, or your friends going through hard times. Pushing through those things together and working towards something that is good for yourself and everyone around you.”

In 2015, Forlorn Strangers played over 180 shows in over 100 cities and more than 30 states nationwide. Since they are currently on tour, Lusk described how being on the road has helped the band grow.

“We’re doing every single facet of life together, and it just makes you have to be good at conflict management and problem solving,” Lusk said. “You learn how to be gracious and kind.”

Lusk said that typically, the band writes its songs by starting with a skeleton, which consists of the lyrics written by one person and accompanied by an acoustic guitar. They then come together as a group and build the remaining pieces of the song such as the harmony.

After their tour, Forlorn Strangers hopes to settle down in a cabin or house and focus on creating their new album. They look forward to creating new songs together from scratch. They also plan to focus on maintaining humility through their journey of growth, Hannah and Abigail said.