“With one foot planted firmly in Appalachian music culture and the other always expanding and evolving, the Black Lillies have created a unique sound embraced by fans old and young.”
– Vanity Fair
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“Steel guitar punctuates the occasional sad lyric with extra heart-punching melancholy, and the beats grab the barn burners by the nose and drag them out to the dance floor for a kicky little two-step. Male-female vocals intertwine beautifully, and everything blends together like a dream featuring Hank Williams and Dolly Parton doing duets.”
– Paul Constant, The Stranger (Seattle)
The Black Lillies have never backed down from a challenge. Proudly independent since their formation, they are always pushing forward and evolving, letting the inspiration and music take focus. That drive has led them to become one of Americana’s biggest success stories: an internationally-renowned band of roots-rockers, armed with songs that blur the boundaries between folk, soul, red dirt country, blues and rock.
With four albums under their belts, the band has been a mainstay on radio and album sales charts, promoting each release in the blue-collar tradition: by hitting the highway, averaging 175 gigs per year. That road-warrior work ethic has become as integral to the band’s success as founder Cruz Contreras’ songwriting, taking the band from coast to coast, border to border, and even country to country. And they have racked up accolades as easily as the miles on their Sprinter, winning praise from outlets including American Songwriter, Rolling Stone, NPR, CMT, Wall Street Journal and Billboard.
The Black Lillies have enthralled audiences at festivals including Bonnaroo Music + Arts, New Orleans Jazz Fest, MerleFest, Stagecoach, CMA Fest & Fan Fair, and Pickathon. Equally at home on theatre stages and in rock clubs, they were one of the first independent bands to play the Grand Ole Opry and have since returned dozens of times – sharing that stage with big-budget bands and major-label mainstreamers. They’ve chased down success on their terms, ignoring the trends of Nashville and focusing on a sound that, as Vanity Fair notes, “continues to cross generations and musical genres – country, folk, blues and a touch of the Dead, for good measure.”
After a major lineup change in 2016 following the departure of two longterm members, bassist/vocalist Sam Quinn joined the fold. A musician with his own cult following due to his role as one half of the driving force behind indie folk darlings the everybodyfields as well as his solo work, he initially signed on to fill in for four shows … but the chemistry was undeniable, and he stayed. Soon after, guitar slinger/vocalist Dustin Schaefer, fresh off a stint with Micky and the Motorcars and a singer/songwriter in his own right, jumped into the mix. And suddenly, the group went from a band with one songwriter to a band with three – plus a drummer, longtime member Bowman Townsend, who helps with song arrangements.
After eight years, four albums, and over a thousand shows, The Black Lillies have evolved from a group of people playing Cruz’s music to a REAL BAND – a group of collaborators who spend as much time together off the road as they do on the road; where everyone contributes and weighs in on the ultimate vision; where a song could be written by any member (or multiple members); where the music takes priority over absolutely everything else. They’re building on that foundation of strong roots rock and creating something brand new. Even classic Black Lillies songs sound fresh and reimagined in their hands – with lush, layered harmonies, a funky edge, and the undeniable chemistry that radiates from the musicians on stage.
With a new configuration, new songs and the same dedication to touring, the Lillies continue to sink their roots deep into the musical landscape. The band will head into the studio in February to begin work on their new album, due out fall 2018 on Thirty Tigers.
“A release this strong and diverse will surely increase the miles on the act’s van and help secure them a place as one of roots music’s most talented outfits.”
– American Songwriter Magazine
- Named one of Rolling Stone Magazine’s “10 Artists You Need to Know”
- Current album Hard to Please released on Attack Monkey/Thirty Tigers, debuted at #12 on Billboard Heatseekers chart, #30 on Billboard Top 200 Country Albums Chart, #10 on BuzzAngle’s Country Albums Sales Chart, #3 on Relix Magazine/Jambands.com Radio Chart, and currently sitting at #1 on Roots Music Report Radio Chart and #4 0n the Americana Music Association Radio Chart.
- Only independent artists invited to play the Grand Ole Opry more than forty times (debuted June, 2011).
- Featured in publications including Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, Billboard, Wall Street Journal, Consequence of Sound, Garden & Gun, Huffington Post, Relix Magazine, USA Today, PASTE Magazine, No Depression & Country Weekly, NPR’s Mountain Stage (three times) and five separate PBS concert specials, a GAC featurette and a CMT television episode airing nationally.
- Have performed at festivals including Bonnaroo Music + Arts, New Orleans Jazz Festival, Stagecoach, SXSW (where they were selected as one of the festival’s top acts by NPR’s Ann Powers, Americana Music Association’s Americana Fest, Country Music Association’s CMA Festival & Fan Fair, Rochester International Jazz Festival, Pickathon, Strawberry Music Festival, Four Corners Folk Festival, MerleFest and more.
- Previous album, Runaway Freeway Blues, was included in several “Best of 2013” lists, including American Songwriter Magazine’s Top 50 Albums of 2013, No Depression’s Top 50 Albums of the Year, Folk Alley’s Top Ten, and more (view complete list here). That album debuted at #21 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart and #43 on the Billboard Top 200 Country Albums chart. It peaked at #4 on the Americana Music Association’s radio charts, with two months in the top five, ending the year as the AMA’s #18 album of 2013 based on radio airplay. It also hit #1 on the Roots Music Report radio chart and was in the CMJ (college radio) top 200 and AAA top 100. (Previous album, 100 Miles of Wreckage, spent five months on the national Americana Radio Charts – four of them in the top 15 – and claimed the #32 spot on the AMA’s Top 100 Albums of the Year based on spin counts.)
- Winners of the Independent Music Award Vox Populi for Best Album, Americana (Whiskey Angel) and the Independent Music Award for Best Story Song Two Hearts Down). Also a nominee for the Independent Music Award for Best Album, Americana (100 Miles of Wreckage) and an Alternate Root Awards for Best Americana Group and Best Album (100 Miles of Wreckage). Hard to Please received three first-round GRAMMY nominations (Best American Roots Performance for Bound to Roam, Best American Roots Song for The First Time, and Best Americana Album).
“A rootsy flair, mixing folk, honky-tonk country and gospel into a winsome hybrid traditional enough to appeal to an Opry crowd and expansive enough to ensnare a broader audience.”
– Wall Street Journal
Stage Plot & Input List
Cruz Contreras – Vocals, piano, acoustic guitar, electric guitar
Dustin Schaefer – Electric guitar, background vocals
Sam Quinn – Bass, vocals
Bowman Townsend – Drums
“Earthy and gritty, their songs speak of pain, love, revenge and revelry with such spirit that they seem to be carved out of the planks of an abandoned backwoods cabin.”
– Relix Magazine
“The instruments that carry The Black Lillies along ‘100 Miles of Wreckage’ are driven with top notch playing. Fingers are flying on strings, every note clear and clean. Cruz Contreras’ vocals come through like a high gloss polish, offering so much attention to detail that you can see yourself inside the words.”
– Danny McCloskey, The Alternate Root
“Smokestack Lady” (directed by Ryan Newman).
“The Fall” (directed by Daniel Cummings)
Previously, “Same Mistakes” by director David McClister (Lady Antebellum, The Band Perry, LeAnn Rimes) debuted exclusively in heavy rotation exclusively on CMT, then was rolled out to other outlets worldwide. “Same Mistakes” was in CMT’s “12 Pack” of top-requested videos for over four solid months.
“Two Hearts Down” was also directed by McClister and became a top-requested clip on CMT, spending several weeks in the number 2 spot in the CMT Pure 12 Pack. “Two Hearts Down” ranked as one of CMT’s top 100 videos of 2011. The video is also aired on international MTV and VH-1 networks, GAC, and a number of stations worldwide.
Official Website: http://www.theblacklillies.com
Facebook Fanpage: http://www.facebook.com/theblacklillies
“With its mix of pedal steel guitar, banjo, and crystalline harmonies, the melancholic and modern Appalachia-meets-Americana sound of Runaway Freeway Blues is firmly rooted in the wandering spirit of a restless heart on the run.”
– Glide Magazine
“Whiskey Angel and the more recent 100 Miles of Wreckage exemplify all that’s good with country/Americana, but I’d want to stress that it’s simply brilliant music – whatever the tag – with accomplished musicianship, rock-solid songwriting, and glorious harmony vocals.”
– Some Diurnal Aural Awe
Jon Folk (USA)
1305 Clinton Street, Suite 210
Nashville, TN 37203
Julien Paquin (Canada)
206B-219 Dufferin Street
M6K 3J1 Canada
Attack Monkey Productions
119 South Gay Street
Knoxville, TN 37902
11271 Ventura Blvd. #522
Studio City, CA 91604
“A stunningly crafted and inspired tour through country, bluegrass, folk, blues, and soft rock that largely ignores genre distinction in favor of top-notch performances and understated professionalism.”
– Matthew Everett, Metro Pulse
“Sweet Southern music at its finest, the country and Americana combo tells whisky-soaked tales of love and heartbreak, and all in between. Contreras’ songcraft is tops and the band is a tightly woven posse of music veterans.”
– Samir Shukla, Creative Loafing
“These folks are strong yet sassy Americana at its best.”
– Austinist (SXSW Band Recommendations)
“A true Americana supergroup. I love this band!”
– Grammy winner Jim Lauderdale
“With its mix of pedal steel guitar, banjo, and crystalline harmonies, the melancholic and modern Appalachia-meets-Americana sound of second LP Runaway Freeway Blues is firmly rooted in the wandering spirit of a restless heart on the run.”
– Glide Magazine
“Every band has their time. This is The Black Lillies’ time. An album a long time coming is here, and very much worth the wait.”
– Joe Limardi, Program Director, WSM (home of the Grand Ole Opry)
“A home run – terrific songs, soulful vocals, excellent musicianship and some of the most honest country and Americana in either genre. But the foundation of it all is good, solid songwriting. The Black Lillies have that in spades.”
– Wayne Bledsoe, News-Sentinel
“From rustic, acoustic gospel to rump-shaking Southern rock, the band, led by frontman Cruz Contreras, expertly weaves the seemingly divergent threads together.”
– Culture Map Dallas
“The many strains of vintage country that collide in this rising band’s sound make The Black Lillies a crossbreed to watch.”
– Country Weekly
“These Grand Ole Opry vets play the type of country and bluegrass you want to hear at the end of a long summer day.”
– Huffington Post