Written by James Killen
Wednesdays are radio nights at Main Street Crossing as the first hour of the show is recorded for later broadcast on a local radio station. Well those listeners got a treat when they turned the knob to The Black Lillies’ performance from the 29th.
The Lillies are a country rock jam band with four albums under their belt and a very active touring schedule. Tonight’s show started off with lead singer/ song writer, Cruz Contreras, singing “Gold and Roses” to Dustin Schaefer’s rambling guitar leads. Schaefer’s guitar work takes center stage quite often during the Black Lillies’ performance supported by a rocking rhythm section of Bowman Townsend on drums and Sam Quinn on bass (and supporting vocals).
The band showed off the improvisational talent between “Two Hearts Down” and “The Fall” with that transitional jam that includes musical phrases from both songs, as well as other digressions, in a style that Grateful Dead aficionados would recognize as “space”. Schaefer employed a tasteful tape loop riff on the rocker, “Ruby” and Quinn sang lead on “Weighting” that came from the same tradition that the Hunter/Garcia tune, “Cumberland Blues” did.
Contreras switched to acoustic guitar from electric and then to piano as the band moved through the set performing “Whiskey Angel” and “All of this Living”. Cruz was left on stage to perform several of his tunes solo and then gradually supported by band members as they rejoined one by one through the set to “Earthquake”. Townsend was the last to retake the stage for a rousing performance of “Where the Black Lillies Grow”, complete with an intense guitar lead before leaving the stage.
Of course there was an encore to top off this performance. This one was a flawless performance of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” which was requested by HMR editor, Edge Ferranti. I was amazed as it seemed that the Lillies reproduced that classic without missing a note from the original. Unfortunately, the encore was well past the hour that had been allotted for the radio show, so fans would have had to be in attendance to get that treat. I’m certain that there will be another chance to catch it in the future as the Black Lillies are a regular guest of the Main Street Crossing.