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.