Published On: Wed, Mar 8th, 2017

The Black Lillies – New Artist Showcase





Hail from Knoxville, Tennessee
For fans of The Infamous Stringdusters, Little Feat

It could have all gone belly-up for the Black Lillies. In 2015, two BL veterans Tom Pryor and Robert Richards left. It was an amicable split, but the group had just fundraised the money to record what would become their fourth album through PledgeMusic.

They’d also selected a producer and even booked a studio. “It was a blow and it went through my head that this could be it, that we might be over,” says frontman Cruz Contreras. “But I did some honest thinking, and what it really boils down to is this: we had a responsibility to our fans, we owed it to them for their support, so we got to work.”

The resulting album, Hard To Please, is the band’s first to use an outside producer (Ryan Hewitt). “It was definitely the right time to get someone else to produce us,” says Cruz.

“Whiskey Angel was recorded in my living room,100 Miles Of Wreckage in an old school house and Runaway Freeway Blues in a small studio. With the fourth album, I wanted to be challenged; Ryan definitely did that. He really pushed me as a writer to get the best material and the band to get the perfect take. It helped we were in one of the best studios in the US.”


The Black Lillies

He’s talking about the House Of Blues Studio D in Nashville. “It’s the original 60s studio, this old shotgun shack made in Memphis, where Isaac Hayes, Stevie Ray Vaughan and the Eagles recorded.

They put it on the back of a tractor trailer and moved it to Nashville in 2010. Just being there was immense, you could feel the history of the place,” says Cruz.

Cruz’s own musical history is family based. “My dad played piano at home, he got me taking traditional piano lessons. My brother is an exceptional fiddle player and my parents got me a guitar so I could play with him. We spent our school years travelling around playing bluegrass and fiddle contests, that got me hooked.”

Next, he went to the university of Tennessee and studied jazz piano. “I thought, if I study jazz, I’ll be a better musician.” On graduation, he was playing mandolin in Robinella And The CCstringband. “…and having a great time.

But what motivates me to make music now is the same as what motivated me in the beginning. It’s the search to discover as much music as I can. That search will never end.”

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