Written by Eddie Ferranti
Mar 16, 2013 at 08:00 PM
ImageDoubleheader, 2 for 1 and Double Dip are terms you rarely see anymore, especially when referring to a music show these days. Well, up in Conroe, Texas, we were treated to just that in the form of Chuck Mead & The Grassy Knoll Boys with the Black Lillies! In fact, they took it to another level in the culmination of what CM referred to as a “Cluster you-know-what” at the end. More on that later.

Both bands were not alien to HMR since we covered Mead opening for Old Crow Medicine Show in Houston recently and had caught a glimpse of the BL at Folk Alliance International in 2012. With SXSW raging in Austin, the Houston area always gets some trickle down effect of bands exploring areas they have not played since they are so close. That was our treat for sure, plus it was at a killer venue, Dosey Doe Music Cafe, which has a very comfortable set up and outstanding sound system. Toss in an exotic type food menu and you have the makings of an outstanding evening.

The Black Lillies opened and were supporting their fine release “Runaway Freeway Blues” which should garner them plenty of accolades for sure. The band is spearheaded by the versatile talents of Cruz Contreras on lead vocals, acoustic guitar and piano, tossed in for good measure. Tom Pryor was outstanding on pedal steel and electric guitar with Bobby Dix on bass, Jamie Cook on drums and the bubbley cool Tricia Jean Brady on harmony vocals rounding out the crew.

Contreras had a high steppin’ kick it out style that helped make this band leap from the CD to the live performance immensely. The tight energy resounded throughout the night and it showed on tunes like ‘The Fall’, ‘Smokestack Lady’ flat out brought the dead to life, tender sweet ‘Catherine’ and ‘The Shepard’s Song’.

CC also brought a very cool sense of humor to town with one liners like “You do know coffee is a gateway drug” and “Looks like it is time to do some dancin’ and on top of tables looks like the best option in here!”  Pryor’s creamy dreamy slide just constantly blended the thumpin’ bumpin’ swampy infectious sound which is the Black Lillies.  These 5 cats from Knoxville Tennessee who reside in Nashville these days have it going in the right direction and deserve all the good things that are surely coming their way down the road.

ImageChuck Mead and his band of Grassy Knoll Boys followed and tore into “One Long Saturday Night” getting the attention of the already back on their heals audience. Mead also lives in Nashville the last 20 years, but is from Lawrence, Kansas and even sported his Kansas Jayhawks gear while we spent a moment chatting before the gig. It doesn’t take long before you feel like you are getting a piece of “Country Fried Elvis” mixed in with a dash of Chris Isaak when you witness a CM show and tonight was no different.

Having a background of founding the ’90s alternative country quintet BR549, Mead has little problem connecting authenic American Roots music with down home rockin’ country. To say he has a way around a stage is putting it mildly.

The GKB feature Martin Super Cool Lynds on snare and such, Crafty Carco Clave on mandolin and steel, and stand up bass man Mark Miller. His latest album, ‘Back At The Quonset Hut, was recorded at Nashville’s legendary Quonset Hut Studio where the likes of Patsy Cline, George Jones, Merle Haggard, Roger Miller and Johnny Cash to name a few cut some of country’s greatest hits.

Some epic moments included ‘Honky Tonk Hardwood Floor’, super foot stompin’ ‘Up On Edge Hill’, ‘Devil in Me’,  a side splitting ‘Me’N’Opie’ and a rockin’ good ‘Girl on a Billboard’ off his latest. Before you knew it the place had turned into a “sock hop with booze” with Mead leading the charge non-stop.  Rev Daniel Frazire’s birthday was also happenin’ and it included him jumping up in a tune.  Very fun stuff with the tight band cranking it up.

When he called out to the Black Lillies to get on up here the gig just ramped up an incredible notch.  Rarely do you see full bands share a stage and jam out like these two did! CM blasted into ‘Blues Stay Away From Me’ and the roaring jam session was on!  To witness the super bad rendition of Townes Van Zandt’s ‘I’m Going Down the Road’ was worth the price of admission alone. To end the night following it with Muscle Shoals classic ‘6 Days on the Road’ was a huge AMEN to a stick-to-your-ribs sort of event that will be long remembered by yours truly and my better half Rose!

Until the next one , God Bless ya…