THE BLACK LILLIES BRING REAL COUNTRY TO THE BIG BOYS.
The Black Lillies are the kind of band you tell your music loving friends about. You share their music like a secret, thinking if you say it too loud everyone will find out about this jewel of southern twang and ruin it. They make the kind of music that sticks to your ribs and could carry you through some dark times ahead. The kind of music that is usually reserved for die hard fans of alt-country, the ones who mark their calenders with every Americana show coming through town. But, the Lillies have already beaten the odds. With ten performances of The Grand Ole Opry under their belt and a new video premiering on CMT this September, they seem to have broken through to the “other side” with out sounding like their record belongs only on Walmart shelves. With a much needed PledgeMusic campaign in the works to raise to fundage to keep on truckin’, The Black Lillies just might take a real southern sound grown in east Tennessee all the way to listeners around the world. Check out our interview below, pledge to help this hard working band, and have a listen! This is The Working Artist.
We caught up with singer and multi instrumentalist Cruz Contreras and talked about what has worked for them so far. “At this point in our career, we certainly spend most of our time traveling, performing, and just surviving….none of this would be possible without a greater vision and someone working diligently to make sure that every aspect of the “machine” is working well and effectively. I knew even after recording the first record I had no interest in booking gigs are being any type of manager. Enter fate…Chyna Brackeen. Chyna moved in next door to me in North Knoxville in 2009, the same year The Black Lillies released Whiskey Angel. She soon became our manager and we’ve been working together for almost 4 years now…we do everything we can to get the music out there. Without a record deal we’ve had to do it on next to no budget….but that’ s been alright too. It’s like living within your means…what a concept. Our big splurge has been making two professional videos for CMT. It’s been a great way to show that while we may not have a traditional record deal we are serious about making a good product. And it can’t hurt to be played side by side with the big dogs!”
Played along side the big dogs, indeed. CMT has a global audience, any advice for new bands trying to make their way?
“First, throw all your blood, sweat and tears into making the best music you can. The music road is tough enough so don’t get ahead of yourself, especially if you’re interested in a lifelong career. Remember, a manager has to have something to manage. So initially I think self-promotion is the best avenue. When you decide to work with an agent, or publicist, or manager, you should understand what they’ll be working on. If you’ve done promotions on your own, you’ll be able to work closely and more effectively as a team. So it’s a growing process, self-promote as long as you can, keep your eye out for management that is competent, diligent, and trustworthy, and never wait for someone to do something for you that you should be doing yourself!”
What do you think was The Black Lillies first big break through?
“There have already been numerous milestones in the life of The Black Lillies that I am so proud of. The release of the first record, sell out shows, festivals, surviving the road….but the biggest surprise has been our 10 performances at the Grand Ole Opry over the past year. The story probably begins with our debut performance at the Ryman Auditorium for WSM’S listener appreciation night and WSM’s subsequent support of both Whiskey Angel and 100 Miles of Wreckage. We got the invite to play the Opry last June assuming it would be a one time deal. We played our hearts out despite sweaty palms and had a great performance. Ten performances later, we have had no bigger vote of confidence!”
You can catch The Black Lillies on tour this summer. Keep supporting music and our music scene.
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