Written by Eddie Ferranti
ImageSometimes it is hard to meet a commitment to get off your duff and go cover a gig, especially on a school night at a venue that is over 30 miles one way. But when you do and it turns out to be a double barreled whammy to your delight, it rocks!

The band in question was the Black Lillies, whom Rose and I had seen 4 times already. The venue was Main Street Crossing in Tomball, Texas which we’d not ventured to in years. The band was out supporting a soon to be released fourth new album in the Fall and had six members gracing the stage tonight. I had the pleasure of running down lead singer Cruz Contreras before the gig and he was stoked about the new album, even though he was in the process of replacing three members in the band. 

CC’s grandma was in the house and he spoke highly of how he’d like to put Texas “in the band’s rotation” going forward.  CC exudes confidence and is a great band leader who knows how to spread the wealth on stage. 

The Black Lillies may be adding some new pieces, but the anchor of this squad is the one-two duet punch of Contreras and sweet Trisha Gene Brady. Their voices are so strong whether interwoven together on beautiful harmonies or trading off on individual solos. Toss in solid drum work of Bowman Townsend and these cats are going to be alright no question.

New tunes dominated this stirring show and please forgive me if song titles are off.  Highlights that stood out were the from the heart thumpin’ “Love You in the Spring Time” , “Let’s Go Dancin’ Like We Used To”, bold duets on early 2009 tour experiences on rockin’ “40 Days and 40 Nights”,  good licks on “Like A Summer Rain” and soulful slow one “Fare Thee Well” which CC wrote in a van while in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Unless you are there you can’t fully experience the build up effect they use on all their songs that rise up and rock your butt. Pedal steel and electric guitar, plus harp solos, came out of nowhere with Contreras egging on the troops while shredding his acoustic guitar or slammin’ on the piano keys mid song! 

ImageThat they opened the gig with extra long steaming version of “Smokestack Lady” had the attentive and appeciative crowd grabbing on and loving their no nonsense presentation. Just when you thought this dynamite show couldn’t rise any higher, they dusted off Buffalo Springfield golden nugget, “For What It’s Worth” and scorched it like they owned it!  “Little Woman” and “Going to Buy Me a Pistol” rocked out the evening and left the crowd wanting more for sure. 

There is a reason that this group was one of the first independent groups to play Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry, and the ONLY act ever to be asked back 15 times in one year with 30 total apperances! Quite an honor indeed and speaks of the talent that they possess. Sure was better than staying nailed to the couch on a Tuesday night…………..Get up and try it sometime!

As far as the venue goes, kudos to Andrew and his staff for making us feel at home. They have redone the entire place from a roadhouse type feel to a full on listening room which was sweet. Judging by the influx of talent that is passing thru here the last 6 months or so it seems everybody is starting to take notice as well.  Count HMR in from now on to make this a regular stop! 

Eddie “Edge” Ferranti / Senior Editor /Houston Music Review