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The Black Lillies: Blurring The Boundaries Of Roots And Rock

Black Lillies via YouTube

Despite the somber-sounding title of Black Lillies, the group can lay down a mean beat. As one reviewer describes it, “Roots rockers that are always pushing forward and evolving…it’s fresh and reimagined in their hands, letting the inspiration and music take focus – with lush, layered harmonies, a funky edge, and the undeniable chemistry.”

And they haven’t let any lillies…ah, grass…grow under their feet: four albums, eight years, and more than a thousand shows, having graced the stages of some of the biggest concert venues around: from Bonnaroo, New Orleans Jazz Fest, and Merle Fest, to the CMA Fan Fair. Not to mention, they were one of the first independent bands to play The Grand Ole Opry.

Another reviewer describes The Black Lillies as having “A road-warrior work ethic that 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 band, with apparent ease, survived a bump in the road after the departure of two long-term members in 2016. Bassist/vocalist Sam Quinn agreed to fill in for four shows, but the new assembly sounded great and he stayed. Not long after came guitarist/vocalist Dustin Schaefer, also a songwriter who brought the band’s total to three of them. The members say, collectively, of their working arrangement: “Everyone contributes and weighs in on the ultimate vision…where a song could be written by any member (or multiple members)…because the music takes priority over absolutely everything else.”

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