The Black Lillies

The Black Lillies

Only Twin

Thu, December 6, 2012

Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 7:30 pm

The Rock Shop

Brooklyn, NY

$10.00 - $12.00

This event is 21 and over

The Black Lillies
The Black Lillies
Those familiar with the background of Black Lillies frontman Cruz Contreras are often struck with a single question when the man opens his mouth to sing:

Why?

Why, given the rich baritone that can range from languid to intense, from reverently hushed to brashly bombastic, did it take so long?

Obviously, he’s no stranger to music. He is the man who loaned out his initials to Robinella and the CCstringband, which flirted with national fame a few years ago with a hit (“Man Over”) on Country Music Television and an appearance on “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” in 2003. Maybe it took a while for him to find his voice – not the literal one, the one that makes you think of Randy Travis or Dan Tyminski or even the great Ralph Stanley in his prime. We’re talking about that other voice – the one steeped in regret, seasoned with pain and tempered in the fires of hard times.

You see, Cruz almost gave it all up. After records on Sony and Dualtone, Robinella and the CCstringband split – figuratively and literally. Cruz lost his wife, his home, his way. It’s a funny thing, though, the way music takes hold of a man. He spent the summer of 2008 driving a truck, and by the end of that year had the skeleton of an album ready to go.

Whiskey Angel was born from the ashes of one career, and shortly after its release, the East Tennessee music scene learned quickly that Cruz was as much of a bandleader as his ex-wife was when he stood in her shadow. In fact, Whiskey Angel made you forget there was ever anything for Cruz Contreras before The Black Lillies – the band that he brought together to record an entire album over the course of a weekend in his living room.

The Black Lillies take their name from a song on that first record. After filtering through several lineup changes, Cruz assembled a crackerjack team of pickers, players and singers who have what it takes to put meat on those songs. Tom Pryor made a name for himself playing pedal steel for damn near any band that could talk him into it; drummer Jamie Cook anchored the rhythm section for Americana darlings the everybodyfields; harmony vocalist Trisha Gene Brady can wail like a hellcat or purr like a wildcat, and everybody who’s heard her sing agrees it only makes sense that someone with her pipes can provide the perfect counter-balance to Cruz. Bassist Robert Richards is the latest addition to the band, and under his steely-eyed gaze, no bass, stand-up or electric, stands a chance.

And then there’s the bandleader himself. Standing in front of the pack, he guides his team with the dignified aplomb of those greats of old – Buck Owens with the Buckaroos, or Bob Wills commanding his Texas Playboys. He knows how to work the crowd, at ease behind the mic, in front of a piano or caressing the necks of a mandolin or guitar. In fact, it’s rare for Cruz to be presented with an instrument he doesn’t play, and everything he does finds its way gently worked into The Black Lillies’ aesthetic with all the swirls and flourishes of brush strokes on canvas laid down by a master painter.

With Whiskey Angel, The Black Lillies established themselves, and it didn’t take long for them to make their mark on the national scene. They kicked off their first national tour at the Ryman Auditorium, the hallowed mother church of country music, and have since labored through three cross-country treks, with a fourth planned for the summer of 2011. They’ve performed on National Public Radio’s Mountain Stage and on two episodes of PBS’s Jammin’ at Hippie Jack’s, and they’ve conquered numerous festivals – Pickathon, the Americana Music Association Festival, Four Corners Folk Festival, Bristol Rhythm and Roots, even Bonnaroo. And in June 2011, the show that made country music famous – The Grand Ole Opry – invited the band to make their debut on the historic circle of wood where so many other legends have performed.

Along the way, the scribes who keep tabs on what’s worth listening to in this day and age have taken quite a shine to Whiskey Angel. It topped 2009 best-of lists across the country and won the Independent Music Awards Vox Pop for Best Album, Americana. It isn’t uncommon for listeners to say that the music has taken hold of their soul. It’s earthy and gritty and melancholy in a way old mountain music was a century ago, speaking of pain and love and revenge and revelry with such spirit, such genuine celebration and sorrow, that it seems to be an album carved out of the planks of a backwoods cabin abandoned during the Great Depression more than a thing recorded in a living room studio by one man.

And as good as it is … as great as it is … it’s a drop in the bucket, because 100 Miles of Wreckage is here. The sophomore record takes what Cruz built in Whiskey Angel and fortifies it, a rustic sound without name and place, unbeholden to geographic region or easy classification. It’s an album crafted with precision and care by musicians who are masters of their trade, who believe in The Black Lillies’ vision and who hold fast to the notion that good music – music with heart and purpose and purity of spirit — is still a valued commodity.

100 Miles of Wreckage has so far spent more than five months on the Americana radio Top 40 charts – four of them in the top 20 – once again proving that a band with this much spirit can break through traditional industry boundaries to achieve success independently, without the constraints of a major label. The band continues to tour non-stop, and without a doubt, they’ll soon be appearing in a town near you. That’s a relative term, of course, but trust us on this – they’re worth the drive, however far it is, because you’ll leave feeling like you’ve witnessed an old-fashion Southern tent revival. These songs will haunt your thoughts long after the curtain closes, rattling through your head like a crooked screen door slaps against its frame when a storm is coming.

It’s that music. It’s that heart. It’s that voice. Why did it take so long, you might ask? Who cares? He did find it, and in the end, we’re grateful. And we think you will be too.
Only Twin
Only Twin
Conceived in 2008 at a shotgun wedding in Brooklyn, Only Twin birthed its first EP in the summer of 2012. The band combines the songwriting of Marisa Frantz and Paul Parkhill, formerly of Brooklyn bands Tenkiller Twins and Building 6 (respectively). Parkhill and Frantz developed the songs gradually through a series of long-distance exchanges between New York and New Mexico, and the music reflects this shuttling between the dense landscape of the east and the expansive terrain of the west. The songs establish a continuum between spillways on the Rio Grande and grave-strewn paths in Greenwood Cemetery, keeping one foot firmly planted in an Americana ethos while exploring the opposing soundscapes and sensibilities of two wildly different regions.

Frantz and Parkhill are joined by Paul DeFiglia on double bass, whose beautiful and ominous bow work alternates with a driving bluegrass sensibility, and David Christian on drums, who demonstrates a similar ability to veer from crackling percussive rock beats to moody atmospheric drum accompaniment. Frantz’s lush harmonies and droning foot-pedal organ lend a narcotic effect, offset by Parkhill’s staccato guitar picking and unexpected chord progressions.
Venue Information:
The Rock Shop
249 4th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY, 11215
http://www.therockshopny.com/