Music Scene: The Black Lillies, Carbon Leaf, Sons of Bill
By Matthew Godbey | Wednesday, June 27, 2012
The Black Lillies
When the folk band The Everybodyfields dissolved in 2009, the pieces scattered. Vocalists Sam Quinn and Jill Andrews both went on to pursue solo careers, while pedal-steel guitarist Tom Pryor and drummer Jamie Cook went on to join an Americana group called The Black Lillies.
I know, I know, Americana bands are quickly becoming overdone, a genre as crowded as grunge in the early ’90s and alt-metal in the late ’90s. It seems everyone wants to be from the South and play in a “we’re not a country band” type of country band, but there are some good ones out there.
The Black Lillies is one of the good ones.
While the band does follow in the footsteps of others, the Knoxville, Tenn.-based quintet leaves some deep imprints behind.
The band’s formation is actually several separate parts coming together to form something singular.
Songwriter Cruz Contreras set out to record several songs he had written following his divorce from singer Robinella Bailey and the dissolution of the pair’s own band, Robinella and the CCstringband. Contreras recruited Pryor and Cook, also castaways, along with Trisha Gene Brady to sing harmony and a relative unknown yet impressive jazz bassist, Robert Richards, to help him get the muddy-yet-tender blues, jazz and country sound he was seeking.
The Black Lillies released its debut, “Whiskey Angel,” in April 2009, after spending a weekend recording in Contreras’s living room. The record’s honest confrontation with personal heartbreak and the ensuing struggle to find hope somewhere in the ashes resonated immediately with audiences and critics alike, and The Black Lillies was asked to play Bonnaroo two weeks later.
The band would later be asked to perform at the Americana Music Association’s annual Americana Music Festival in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
“Whiskey Angel” was nominated for an Independent Artist Award in 2011 and won the “Vox Populi” (“People’s Choice”) award for best Americana album.
The Black Lillies is currently on tour in support of its latest album, “100 Miles of Wreckage.”
The band will perform tonight at The Pour House, 1977 Maybank Highway, with The Honeycutters. Tickets are $8 at the door or online at Etix.com. Doors open at 9 p.m.
Go to Charlestonpour house.com or call 571-4343 for more information.
The tale of Virginia’s Celtic-inspired folk/rock quintet Carbon Leaf is one that probably inspires as much as it does deter.
With a little less than two decades under its belt, there’s no overnight success story here, no jet-setting, arena-filling history to brag about either. There’s not even a chart-topping record to discuss, even out of the dozen or so that have been released.
No, Carbon Leaf’s story is one of bitter devotion and perseverance, more akin to fighting for years in the trenches than flying high on the charts and in the skies.
It’s a more realistic tale of what it takes to survive in the music business for such a length of time.
The band has experienced its share of ups and downs over the years, having toured with the likes of the Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer, The Avett Brothers and Counting Crows, and finding some success on the indie charts some years ago with 2006’s “Love, Loss, Hope, Repeat” and 2009’s “Nothing Rhymes with Woman.” But despite never striking it big, Carbon Leaf seems content.
The band decided to leave its label, Vanguard Records, in 2010 and return to making music on its own again, self-funding everything from tours to records and relying on the Internet to sell its albums.
Carbon Leaf is now on tour in support of its latest release, “How the West Was One.”
The band will perform Saturday at The Windjammer, 1008 Ocean Blvd., with local singer and songwriter Luke Cunningham. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 the day of the show and are available at the-windjammer.com or at the door. Doors open at 9 p.m.
Call 886-8948 or go to www.the-windjammer.com for more information.
Sons of Bill
Consisting of three brothers and two longtime friends, Virginia-based Americana band Sons of Bill’s story sounds like it was surely scripted for some Southern tale about fathers and sons, brothers and growing up. Rick Bragg or Pat Conroy might have imagined it if it wasn’t already true.
The eldest three of six children, the Wilson brothers decided to name their band after their father, Bill Wilson, a professor of philosophy and a songwriter who taught them everything from how to play the guitar to how to back up a trailer.
Such a tribute by his sons says something about a man, something that his sons have captured so deeply in their songs that one can hear the grinding of truck gears and the smell of grease on their fingertips.
There’s a deep-rooted sense of authenticity in the band’s music, an honesty that fans and critics alike have praised for the last six years.
The band recently released its third full-length album, “Sirens,” after a successful Kickstarter.com project raised more than $40,000, a total that far surpassed the band’s $20,000 goal, which was met in less than 24 hours.
Sons of Bill will perform Tuesday at The Windjammer, 1008 Ocean Blvd., with Radiolucent. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 the day of the show and are available at www.the-windjammer.com or at the door. Doors open at 9 p.m.
Call 886-8596 or visit www.the-windjammer.com for information.