The 50 Ways

The 50 Ways


Brie Sullivan and Zack Root are The 50 Ways, a folk duo tinged with rock, blues, jazz, and bluegrass. The Lowell-based group hushes rooms with poetic lyrics and tight-knit harmonies, amuses and shocks with their quirky sense of humor, and engages a crowd with their all-inclusive musical approach.


It would not be unusual for you to step in to one of Lowell’s intimate cafés and find a room full of twenty-somethings singing at the top of their lungs. You might ask yourself, “To what do I owe such an occasion?� Someone would whisper, “The 50 Ways�. You might then look around at all these people lending their voices and question, “Where does the band end and the audience begin?�

The 50 Ways, a folk/rock duo based out of Lowell, MA, consists of Brie Sullivan and Zack Root… and The Roadside Choir. (Insert audience participation here.) When the quirky duo started creating songs with more vocal parts than band members, their first instinct was to use a looping device, recording the harmony line on the spot. After realizing the hassle this might create, Brie and Zack thought back to their roots of playing around song circles and decided to reach out to their audience members for help. Thus, fans become members of The 50 Ways’ Roadside Choir for the evening. By taking such an all-inclusive approach to their music, Brie and Zack create a truly unique chemistry between performer and audience making each show meaningful.

When the crowd is not joining the band in song, The 50 Ways often bring a hush to the room with their honest, poetic lyrics, and tight-knit harmonies. Just as frequently, Brie and Zack amuse and shock audiences with their unpredictable and complimentary senses of humor. The duo's blend of genuine chemistry, friendship, and honesty endears them to the crowd. Clever songs tinged with jazz, blues, and bluegrass offer up catchy melodies that will get stuck in the ear of any listener.

Within their five years on the folk scene, Brie and Zack have been warmly received by folk audiences as well as the local scene of indie rock and punk fans alike. The 50 Ways have been compared to great duos such as Simon and Garfunkle, The Kennedys, Bert and Ernie, and The Weepies. Their songwriting styles have been likened to those of Suzanne Vega, Tom Waits, and Kris Delmhorst. The 50 Ways have had the honor of sharing the stage with artists such as Erin Mckeown, Edie Carey, and Flora Reed. Previously, Brie has performed with Gavin Degraw and Mary Lou Lord as well as Rahzel and the Roots. Brie and Zack are sharing their music locally throughout Lowell and Boston in support of their independently released EP “Metropolitan Gadabouts� and are currently in the studio recording their full-length debut due for release this summer.

In a city that thrives on music, poetry, and art, it is an undeniable fact that The 50 Ways are on the frontlines of a cultural revolution, captivating one audience at a time.


Departing Him

Written By: Brie Sullivan

Oh Ladies, if he's keeping you down
if he's stealing the sound right out of your mouth,
then take a bit of advice:
it's time to stop makin' nice

Get out, get out, get out

And Ladies, if he's makin' the rounds
if he's painting the town with his lies,
then listen up good and clear:
you've got to swallow your fears

Say you're goodbyes, goodbye, goodbye

Take it from me, there's a lot more to see
than the view of his shoes and the ground.
So step back and breathe then set yourself free;
Take to the skies and never come down.

Oh Ladies, if he's wagin' a war
all the while blocking the door and your life,
then call your allies, take back your love and your life;
Arise, arise, arise!


Written By: Brie Sullivan

Some days you look right through me,
stand by the door, and fix your gaze on people I can't see.
But lately you're the one to come around here, sayin', "These rooms they get lonely."
(Yeah, these rooms get lonely.)

I was avoiding familiar faces,
walking right through them.
Singing lonesome songs at night to fill the spaces,
getting tangled while haunting my loose ends.
(Getting tangled while haunting my loose ends)

I was a ghost those days,
Oh yes, I was a ghost those days.

I was moaning in the empty rooms you left me, just so i could feel an echo on my skin.
Standing on street corners with the changing lights
just so I could feel a part of anything.
(Just so i could feel a part of anything).

I was a ghost those days,
Oh yes, I was a ghost those days.

But I'm not haunting anyone;
I will look you in the eyes.
Oh, and I will smile wide for you.
I'm reborn, I am alive!
(I'm reborn, I am alive!)

Now I'm not a ghost these days,
Oh no, I'm not a ghost these days!


Written By: Brie Sullivan

I'm just a small piece of it,
just a cog in the gear
of the machine we call Human Nature.
Tryin' to back up enough to see where i fit in,
what word do i sing in life's nomenclature?

Maybe one smile I gave,
one push of courage to lock
eye to eye with that shy boy,
made him laugh inside and outside.
And ringing out on breath of night
caught an ear, in passing flight,
who needed the sound of Hope
to remind her of her love of life.

If you're the washer that saves just one person, just one nut
then you have served your purpose.
Just one person, that can be enough.

Or maybe you tipped your waitress too much,
(it's a fact, nice eyes are priceless)
and you held the change to her palm
as she laughed and she blushed
and floated off to sigh and gush.
She won't fall apart beneath the harsh bathroom lights.
Not tonight.

'm just a small piece of it,
just a cog in the gear
of the machine we call Human Nature.
Tryin' to back up enough to see where i fit in,
what word do i sing in life's nomenclature?

The warm heart
is connected to the kindness,
is connected to the love,
is connected to the life,
is connected to the heart.


Metropolitan Gadabouts (EP) - 2007
Edges (EP) - 2004

Set List

The 50 Ways are accustomed to playing sets ranging from 45 minutes to two hours. A typical set would include the following original songs:

Long Way Home
Departing Hymn
Departing Him
Worn Conversations
Burn these Walls Down
New Black Dress,

Additional Songs:
A Sad Lullaby
Sometime’s Murders the Only Way Out
Highway Song
Blue-lit Morning
Paper Heart
Mountains of Your Mind
Beauty Birds
Girl-Made Wings
Plaster Smile
Two by Two
Crooked and Dreamless
Notice Me

Goodnight Irene - Lead Belly
By Way of Sorrow - Julie Millier
Come On in My Kitchen - Traditional (Crooked Still arrangement)
Ten Year Night - Lucy Kaplansky
Little Plastic Castle - Ani Difranco
I'll Fly Away - Alison Krauss and Gilian Welch