Review by Fred Rudofsky
According to my source, the Black Lillies were the talk of Austin’s South by Southwest Festival back in March, and their well-attended show at the Ale House lived up to the hype. Based out of Knoxville, Tennessee and currently in the middle of a three-month tour, the young five-piece combo played two strong sets of country music and roots rock that drew largely upon two albums, Whiskey Angel and their recent Runaway Freeway Blues, incorporating diverse inspirational sources along the way.
Led by guitarist-keyboardist Cruz Contreras, the Black Lillies got a warm welcome as soon as they entered the intimate room, and they played like they felt at home. The opening song, “Gold and Roses,” established the motif of fine harmonies by Contreras and Trisha Gene Brady, and introduced the audience to the deft pedal steel work of Tom Pryor. “Catherine” paid tribute to Contreras’s grandmother, and the admiration expressed in the lyrics was punctuated by the snare fills and full bass notes of Bowman Townshend and Bobby Richards respectively. “Same Mistakes” brought to mind the vocal style of Vince Gill, while the bluesy “Good Morning Mama” let Contreras and Brady duet like Johnny and June over a series of crisp Telecaster riffs and solos by Pryor.