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January 24, 2017

The Black Lillies 2017: Jonathan Keeney (pedal steel), Dustin Schaefer (guitars & vocals), Sam Quinn (bass & vocals), Cruz Contreras (founder & frontman, guitar, mandolin, vocals & songwriter), Haley Cole (multi instrumentalist & vocals) and Bowman Townsend (percussion). [Illustrator: Brian Methe]

Following six weeks in Europe
to promote overseas release of album Hard to Please,
U.S. touring to continue.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Black Lillies began 2017 with a new band member (Haley Cole from Birch, Texas); the European release of their current album, Hard to Please on January 20; and a winter European tour prior to returning to American stages — commencing in Texas — for the remainder of the year. Additionally, the new lineup will go into the studio in 2017 to record a new album.
The Black Lillies’ story is one of hard work and highway miles … a story that traces their evolution from a group of friends making music in songwriter and frontman Cruz Contreras’ living room into what is now one of Americana’s biggest success stories: an internationally-renowned band of roots-rockers, armed with songs that blur the boundaries among folk, soul, red dirt country, blues and jazz.
The Black Lillies’ story is still unfolding, with the band’s sharp, Southern-influenced songs — including Americana radio hits like “Hard to Please,” the kickoff single and title track from the band’s most recent album — leading the charge. Featuring multi-instrumentalist Contreras, bassist and vocalist Sam Quinn , drummer Bowman Townsend, guitarist/vocalist Dustin Schaefer , pedal steel player Jonathan Keeney and multi-instrumentalist/vocalist newcomer Cole, the Black Lillies enter this chapter as one of the most visible, viable groups in contemporary roots music.
Hard to Please , produced by Grammy winner Ryan Hewitt and recorded at Nashville’s legendary House of Blues Studio D, earned praise from Rolling Stone Country, NPR, American Songwriter and beyond, debuting at #12 on Billboard Heatseekers and #30 on Billboard’s Top 200 Country Albums. Runaway Blues, from 2013, and 2011’s 100 Miles of Wreckage both fared similarly well, with outlets like Entertainment Weekly praising the band’s “strong roots-folk songwriting, sweet harmonies, and charismatic indie spirit.”
The Black Lillies promoted each release in the blue-collar tradition: by hitting the highway, racking up 230 gigs in 2014 alone and averaging 175 during the remaining years. That road-warrior work ethic has become as integral to the band’s success as Contreras’ songwriting, taking the band from coast to coast, border to border, and even country to country.
Proudly independent since their formation, the Black Lillies 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.” With new members, new songs and the same dedication to touring, the Lillies continue to sink their roots deep into the Americana landscape.

2017 Tour Dates

Jan. 27 UPPSALA SWEDEN Katalin
Jan. 28 AVESTA SWEDEN Rootsy Meeting Showcase
Feb. 2 OSLO, NORWAY Gamla
Feb. 4 ÖREBRO SWEDEN Scandic Grand Hotel
Feb. 5 HULTSFRED, SWEDEN Hotell Hulingen,
Feb. 9 HALMSTAD, SWEDEN Immanuelskyrkan
Feb. 10 MALMÖ, SWEDEN Immanuelskyrkan
Feb. 12 HAARLEM, NETHERLANDS Roots Of Heaven Festival, Patronaat
Feb. 15 LEICESTER, UK The Musician
Feb. 16 SHEFFIELD, U.K. The Greystones
Feb. 17 NEWCASTLE, U.K. The Cluny
Feb. 18 LONDON, U.K. Nells Jazz & Blues
March 2 BARCELONA, SPAIN Rocksound
March 3 ZARAGOZA SPAIN La Ley Seca
March 4 MADRID, SPAIN Funhouse
March 9 BEAUMONT, TX Courville’s
March 10 HOUSTON, TX Goode’s Armadillo Palace
March 11 FREDRICKSBURG TX Luckenbach Dancehall
March 12 THE WOODLANDS, TX Dosey Doe’s Ranch House
March 16 FORT WORTH, TX Live Oak Music Hall
March 17 SAN ANTONIO, TX Sam’s Burger Joint
March 18 EDEN, TX Green Apple Arts Center
March 24 BLACKSBURG, VA Lyric Theatre
March 25 HOPEWELL, VA Beacon Theatre
April 22 CEDARBURG, WI Cedarburg Cutural Center
April 29 TULSA, OK Guthrie Green

What critics have said about the Black Lillies’ Hard to Please:
“Country music with a soul-rock infusion, supported by bandleader Cruz Contreras’ smart songwriting and tight musicianship that comes from years on the road.” —Rolling Stone
“One of roots music’s most talented outfits.” —American Songwriter
”The many strains of vintage country that collide in this rising band’s sound make The Black Lillies a crossbreed to watch.” — NASH Country Weekly
“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.” —The Wall Street Journal
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February 1st, 2016

Scene of the Crime, Houston Texas


Massive outpouring of support helps cushion blow of losses;
band offering reward for return of beloved instruments

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Black Lillies would sure love to have their instruments back, but the Knoxville, Tenn.-based Americana band have been blown away by the outpouring of support they’ve received following the theft of their van, trailer and gear early Monday while they slept in a Houston, Texas, motel.

The unexpected silver lining from losing one-of-a-kind vintage instruments, personal belongings and merchandise including copies of their October release, Hard to Please (only their van was recovered), has been a massive show of love from fans, fellow players and others sympathetic to their plight. In fact, the band gained 1,500 new social media fans in a 24-hour period. As word spread of the theft, social media took over; the band’s Facebook post went viral and a fan-requested donation site raised more than $40,000 in two days to help cover substantial costs not borne by insurance — including the true value of their instruments.

“From venues who are calling to offer us gigs, to musicians calling to offer us gear, to people literally offering us the clothes off of their backs, to members of the media from all over the country who are calling to ask what more they can do to spread the word, to friends, fans, strangers donating money to help with the gap between what the insurance will cover and what was lost … every email, tweet, call, post, smoke signal is showing us the beauty that is out there,” the Black Lillies posted in response. “We will never be able to tell you what it means to us. Just know that you’re getting us through this, and we love you for it.”

The band discovered the theft at 6 a.m. Monday, Jan. 25, as they prepared to return home for a short break after weeks on the road. Surveillance video showed someone had driven up to their vehicle and, in less than two minutes, driven away with it — along with their heavily padlocked trailer and its contents, totaling over $100,000.

Determined not to miss an already sold-out show Jan. 29 at the Willow Tree in Johnson City, Tenn., the band packed up borrowed and rented gear. They’re offering a reward for information leading to the return of their purloined stuff. (An amount will be announced after details are worked out with Houston-area police.) In answer to those wondering what else they can do to help the Black Lillies (or other bands in the same unfortunate boat), manager Chyna Brackeen respectfully suggests:

Attend an upcoming show. Now more than ever, it will do the band tremendous good to see people enjoying the music.

Buy their music. If you already have it, turn a friend onto it (they don’t mind if you burn CDs and share them). It’s available at independent record stores and other brick-and-mortar retailers as well as online at,, and iTunes. (If your local store doesn’t have it in stock, request they order it from distributor Sony RED.)
Spread the word about the instruments and help track them down. Let’s make it impossible for these guys to sell them without getting caught. (View a list of the stolen gear, with serial numbers, here.)

If you love a touring musician, buy them a GPS vehicle tracker or anti-theft device in the Black Lillies’ honor. They don’t want to see this happen to other people. If you do that, please let the band know via Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #theblacklillies.

Call your local radio stations and ask them to play the band’s music. It’s a great way to show support and hopefully will help us gain a few new fans along the way.

The Black Lillies have already shown a knack for recovering from adversity — they lost two members just before entering the studio to record Hard to Please yet still managed to release their strongest album to date — the band is more determined than ever to stay on the road and deliver their music the best way they know how: by performing live for their fans.

As No Depression columnist Easy Ed noted, “While the Black Lillies have suffered a terrible loss, I suspect that they’ve also got something in return that will feel very special over time. To have met people along the way who’ve been touched by your music — who will extend a helping hand in time of need — is something nobody can ever take from them.”

Ironically, the band made a music video two years ago for their song “Smokestack Lady” in which founder/frontman Cruz Contreras plays a cop chasing down a couple of vehicle thieves. Catch the clever video — which conveys their live energy and the sound Rolling Stone Country hails as “country music with a soul-rock infusion, supported by smart songwriting and tight musicianship” — here.

To support the band with a donation, click (Donors outside of the U.S. can use this Paypal link.) To report information regarding the band’s stolen property, email

Follow the band here:

Tour Dates:
/ Fri., Jan. 29 JOHNSON CITY, TN The Willow Tree
Sun., Jan. 31-Sun., Feb. 7 MIAMI, ST MAARTEN, TORTOLA Cayamo Cruise
Wed., Feb. 24 CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA Southern Café & Music Hall
Thur., Feb. 25 WARRENDALE (PITTSBURGH), PA Jergel’s Rhythm Grille
Fri., Feb. 26 WASHINGTON, DC The Hamilton
Sat., Feb. 27 CARRBORO, NC Cat’s Cradle
Thurs., March 3 HAMDEN, CT The Outer Space
Fri., March 4 REHOBOTH BEACH, DE Dogfish Head Brewery
Sat., March 5 BROOKLYN, NY The Shop
Thurs., March 17 DENTON, TX Dan’s Silverleaf
Sat., March 19 ALPINE, TX Railroad Blues
Tues., March 22 SACRAMENTO, CA Harlow’s
Wed., March 23 CHICO, CA Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Thurs., March 24 TUOLUMNE, CA Willow Creek Lounge
Fri., March 25 SUTTER CREEK, CA The Sutter Creek Theater
Sat., March 26 ALTURAS, CA The Hotel Niles
Sun., March 27 MILL VALLEY, CA Sweetwater Music Hall
Mon., March 28 LOS ANGELES, CA The Mint
Tues., March 29 LAS VEGAS, NV Vinyl
Wed., March 30 SCOTTSDALE, AZ Rockbar
Fri., April 1 OKLAHOMA CITY, OK Wormy Dog
Sat., April 2 ST. LOUIS, MO Off Broadway
Sun., April 3 LEXINGTON, KY Mountain Stage @ Singletary Center for the Arts
Wed., April 13 TOMBALL, TX Main Street Crossing
Thurs., April 14 BRYAN, TX Grand Stafford Theatre
Fri., April 15 DRIFTWOOD, TX Old Settler’s Music Festival
Sat., April 16 PLANO, TX Love & War
Thurs., April 21 BEAUMONT, TX Courville’s
Fri., April 22 NEW ORLEANS, LA New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
Sat., April 23 THOMASVILLE, GA Due South Festival
Thurs., April 28 TULSA, OK Woody Guthrie Festival
Fri., April 29 KANSAS CITY, MO Knuckleheads
Thurs., May 5 CHICAGO, IL City Winery

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December 3rd, 2015


The genre-mashing Americana band hits the road with their
critically praised CD Hard to Please.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Black Lillies’ new album Hard to Please (Attack Monkey/Thirty Tigers) has been racking up the accolades since its October release. Rolling Stone Country hailed it as “country music with a soul-rock infusion, supported by smart songwriting and tight musicianship” while American Songwriter praised the “soulful mix of upbeat Americana and tender ballads that makes the album a rejuvenating fourth release.” PopMatters declared that the Knoxville group created “an authentic sound that’s guided by their best instincts,” and called the CD their “most confident set yet.”

Given the raves, it is hard to believe that the album was born from adversity. As the Black Lillies were gearing up to record at Nashville’s historic House of Blues Studio D with their first outside producer, Grammy Award-winner Ryan Hewitt (Avett Brothers, Johnny Cash, The Red Hot Chili Peppers), they encountered some bumps in the road. The group realized they were short on songs that were ready to record; then they became short on musicians after two band members suddenly quit.
Instead of taking the easy way out and calling the whole thing off, the remaining Black Lillies — frontman Cruz Contreras, guitarist/vocalist Trisha Gene Brady and drummer Bowman Townsend demonstrated the same resilient determination that made them such a grassroots success. Armed with some freshly written Contreras tunes, they entered the studio with the help of talented guests: bassist Bill Reynolds (Band of Horses), pedal steel player Matt Smith (Amy Ray, Shannon Whitworth, The Honeycutters) and the young Nashville guitar whiz Daniel Donato.

Hard to Please stands as the Black Lillies’ most varied set of music. The ten-song set opens with the title track’s unexpected twangy funk and rolls on with the fierce country rocker “That’s the Way It Goes Down,” the Southern-style soul Contreras/Brady duet “Mercy” and the horn-fueled “The First Time,” on which Brady handles lead vocals. The disc deftly balances introspective numbers like “Desire” and “Bound to Roam” with the boot-scootin’ country tune “Dancin’” and the rockin’ on-the-road rave-up “40 Days.” The Black Lillies’ musical breadth is best captured in “Broken Shore.” This entrancing song ebbs and flows as a wild fiddle and psychedelic-like guitar lines lead listeners on a harrowing journey inspired by Contreras’ grandfather fighting in the Battle of Iwo Jima.

The Black Lillies’ eclecticism won’t surprise anyone who has had the pleasure of experiencing them in concert. The band’s set lists frequently contain a couple of covers, from American roots tunes like the Delmore Brothers’ “Blues Stay Away From Me” and Blind Willie Johnson’s “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” to classic rock’s “Time of the Season” and “For What It’s Worth” and left field choices such as “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” “Love Train,” and David Bowie’s “Five Years.”

The band has built their grassroots popularity by taking their music to the people. They have been averaging 200 gigs a year since forming in 2009, playing small clubs as well as big festivals like Bonnaroo, Stagecoach and the Americana Music Festival. NPR’s Ann Powers made the group one of her top picks at 2014’s SXSW and no other independent band has played the prestigious Grand Ole Opry as many times as the Black Lillies have.

Known for dynamic live shows, the band will be heading out on tour to support Hard to Please. This December the Black Lillies can be found along the East Coast, performing from Vermont to West Virginia, while the New Year finds them out West, starting with the Steamboat MusicFest before swinging through Texas and winding out at sea on the popular Cayamo Cruise.

The album’s musical evolution will be reflected in the group’s concerts as the Black Lillies have grown into a six-piece with lead guitarist Mike Seal (Jeff Sipe Trio, Larkin Poe), bassist Sam Quinn (the everybodyfields) and pedal steel man Jonathan Keeney (Robinella) joining the core trio of Cruz Contreras, Trisha Gene Brady and Bowman Townsend.

Tour dates:

Thur., Dec. 3 HOPEWELL, VA The Beacon Theatre
Fri., Dec. 4 RALEIGH, NC Lincoln Theatre
Sat., Dec. 5 HARRISONBURG, VA Clementine Café
Sun., Dec. 6 ASHEVILLE, SC Grey Eagle
Tue. Dec. 8 PHILADELPHIA, PA World Café Live
Wed. Dec. 9 CAMBRIDGE, MA The Middle East
Thur., Dec. 10 BURLINGTON, VT ArtsRiot
Fri., Dec. 11 ROCHESTER, NY Abilene
Sat., Dec. 12 WELLSVILLE, NY Wellsville Creative Arts Center
Sun., Dec. 13 NORFOLK, CT Infinity Music Hall
Tue., Dec. 15 BUFFALO, NY Sportsmen’s Tavern
Wed., Dec. 16 MILLDALE, CT Tipping Chair
Fri., Dec. 18 WRIGHTSVILLE, PA Burning Bridge Tavern
Sat., Dec. 19 SHEPHERDSTOWN, NY The Shepherdstown Opera House
Mon., Jan. 4-Sat., Jan. 9 STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, CO Steamboat MusicFest 2016
Sun., Jan. 10 DENVER, CO The Soiled Dove Underground
Mon., Jan 11 DURANGO, CO Balcony,
Tue., Jan. 12 RED RIVER, NM The Motherlode Saloon
Wed., Jan. 13 ROSWELL, NM Pecos Flavors Winery
Thur., Jan. 14 AMARILLO, TX Hoot’s Pub
Fri., Jan. 15 LUBBOCK, TX The Blue Light
Sat., Jan. 16 FORT WORTH, TX Magnolia Motor Lodge
Wed., Jan. 20 SAN ANTONIO, TX Sam’s Burger Joint
Thur., Jan. 21 AUSTIN, TX Strange Brew
Fri., Jan. 22, HOUSTON, TX Bungalow Concerts
Sat., Jan. 23, DALLAS, TX The Rustic
Sun., Jan. 24 CONROE, TX Dosey Doe Music Cafe
Fri., Jan. 29 JOHNSON CITY, TN The Willow Tree
Sun., Jan. 31-Sun., Feb. 7 MIAMI, FL Cayamo Cruise
Thur., Feb. 25 WARRENDALE (PITTSBURGH), PA Jergel’s Rhythm Grille
Fri., Feb. 26 WASHINGTON, DC The Hamilton
Sat., Feb. 27 CARRBORO, NC Cat’s Cradle

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Watch (and feel free to post) the video for "Smokestack Lady":


Artist Photo