Black Lillies brings its Americana cocktail to Wormy Dog Saloon 

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The Black Lillies brings its unique fusion of country, rock and jazz music to Bricktown with a gig 9:30 p.m. Friday at Wormy Dog Saloon, 311 E. Sheridan Ave.

The best description of its sound is Americana, the blanket term that covers traditional and alternative country, roots rock, rockabilly and progressive bluegrass and incorporates influences from multiple genres and cultures.

Hard to Please, the act’s fourth album, is a heady mixture of all the above and alternates between dance floor boot-stompers and tender love songs. It was released last year.

The Black Lillies is the brainchild of singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Cruz Contreras, who recently spoke to Oklahoma Gazette about the band’s music, which he admitted is hard to label.

“That is something I’ve done on purpose over the years; I never wanted to pigeonhole the band,” he said. “I wanted us to have the freedom to create in different styles. Being from Knoxville, Tennessee, we are exposed to so much great roots music, rock ’n’ roll, blues, soul, bluegrass, country and mountain music — we just try to take elements of all of that and put it together.

“Certainly, if someone calls what we do country music, I don’t have a problem with that,” Contreras continued. “I love country music and … it’s a huge part of our tradition. But our fans understand that if you come to one of our shows where we play two or two and a half hours, you’re going to go on a ride. We’re going to cover a lot of musical territory.”

Moving forward

The band received some unwanted publicity in January after its tour van was stolen. While the vehicle was returned, vintage instruments, gear and personal possessions were not recovered.

“It was our last Texas tour, our last night. We played in Houston, we had a great show, stayed in a hotel by Bush Airport,” he said. “When we woke up, it was gone. It was all on camera. In 120 seconds, they had it stolen and drove off.”

The musicians received an outpouring of support from fans and gained a number of new ones. Over the last three months, Contreras has dealt with fundraisers, insurance and rebuilding the band’s gear, but he would much rather be writing songs and recording.

“It took us six months to solidify the new lineup, which is stronger than ever,” he said.

The act’s core lineup includes Bowman Townsend on percussion, Trisha Gene Brady on vocals and Contreras on guitar, keys, vocals and mandolin. While recording Hard to Please, they were joined by bassist Bill Reynolds of Band of Horses, pedal steel player Matt Smith of The Honeycutters and young, Nashville-based guitar phenom Daniel Donato.

“What we are excited about is moving forward and capturing that and making some new recordings. It’s time, no doubt. This lineup has something really special to offer,” Contreras said. “There’s a pretty cool story with this band. We’ve done it without a record label and without moving to a major industry town. We’ve done it the old-fashioned way. We’ve just gone out there and played music and made records. It takes a little bit longer to make fans that way, but I feel like when we do make fans, most of them are going to stick with us for the long haul and support us in continually stretching and being creative, which is a real honor and a cool way to go about it all.”

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Print headline: Black magic, This Tennessee six-piece blends roots rock, alt-country and more to create its distinctive blend of boot-stomping music.

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