Released March 26th Runaway Freeway Blues is the 3rd EP released from the Knoxville, Tennessee based alt country/Americana group the Black Lillies. Following up the critically acclaimed 100 Miles of Wreckage in 2011, the band weaves tales of road travels, amalgamated characters and blows the dust off some great mythologized themes and stories to comprise an 11 track album that hits like an electrified back porch lullaby.
If much of the material written for Runaway Freeway Blues was taken from the road, then the band surely had a wealth of content to draw from, as they have been active this past year. Touring hard from coast to coast and frequenting the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, the Black Lillies are on a steady rise using their transcendent sound to pull in non-traditional country and rock fans as they go. Runaway Freeway Blues showcases this truly unique sound and talent from band members Cruz Contreras (guitar, vocals, piano), Jamie Cook (percussion), Trisha Gene Brady (vocals), Tom Pryor (guitar/pedal steel) and Robert Richards (bass).
The Wall Street Journal recently ran a premiere piece on Runaway Freeway Blues in their “Speakeasy” section of the online periodical. In addition, Ann Powers of NPR featured The Black Lillies Thursday night set at South by Southwest as one of the highlights of the entire festival. Things are clearly happening for this Knoxville-based group and Runaway Freeway Blues is yet another springboard for the Black Lillies playing to more people, in larger venues throughout the country and beyond.
Beginning with a much anticipated appearance at the Grand Ole Opry March 29th, the band then kicks the tour into a higher gear as they perform 20 dates in the month of April throughout the south before heading to the Midwest and ultimately the west coast. The band is still playing smaller clubs at theaters at this point, but that might prove to be temporary as more people are exposed and literally more noise is generated.
If you have read this far, and still haven’t queued up Runaway Freeway Blues, go to track #6 “Catherine”, a tale of a World War II bombing run and the reflections of a soldier on life and its’ fragility during wartime. Clearly the hook song of the album, “Catherine” reflects the timeless songwriting and vast content Cruz Contreras draws upon in his songwriting.
Another absolute gem on this album is track #2 “Gold and Roses”. The song starts out very similarly to Ryan Bingham’s “Southside of Heaven”, but quickly averts from that as it establishes itself as a story of westward expansion, love and the gold rushes that littered the west in the 19th and early 20th century.
All of the songs on this remarkably unique album tell incredible stories, none of which more than track #10 “Baby Doe”. Naturally there’s some bias (I’m a Coloradan), but to hear a Tennessee based music outfit retelling the story of the silver struck socialite Baby Doe Tabor is something everyone has to hear. This song, like the majority of Runaway Freeway Blues, tells visceral, image-laden stories that take you to a place, or a time or a back to a time and place.
From their debut release Whiskey Angel to 100 Miles of Wreckage to the recent release of Runaway Freeway Blues, the Black Lillies feel like a band that would come pouring out of an old Bush radio as you sit in a rocking chair with an old coon hound passed out next you. Although it sounds colloquial in its imagery, the songs this band is writing are songs take you to places like this and beyond. Alt country/Americana does do justice to the Black Lillies. How about image thick, historically encompassing time piece, genre blurring sounds of America?
Written by Allen Byrne
OurVinyl | Contributor
Black Lillies 2013 Tour:
Grand Ole Opry
Friday, March 29, 2013 at 7:00pm in CDT
Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 9:30pm in CDT
3rd & Lindsley
Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 8:00pm in EDT
Willie’s Locally Known
River Roots in Madison, IN!
Friday, April 5, 2013 at 8:00pm in EDT
Historic Broadway Tavern
Saturday, April 6, 2013
The Outpost in Armington
Bowling Green, KY
Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 8:00pm in CDT
The Warehouse at Mt. Victor
Athens, GA – with special guests James Justin & Co.
Tuesday, April 9, 2013 at 7:30pm in EDT
The Melting Point
Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 7:30pm in EDT
String Break Festival, Brooksville, FL
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Sertoma Youth Ranch
Saturday, April 13, 2013 at 8:00pm in EDT
West Palm Beach, FL
Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at 7:00pm in EDT
TBA – West Palm Beach
Key West, FL
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
The Green Parrot
Saint Augustine, FL
Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 9:00pm in EDT
Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 7:00pm in CDT
Cruz Contreras on Songcraft Live!
Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 8:00pm in EDT
High Rock Outfitters
Friday, April 26, 2013
Wilkes Community College
Rock Island, IL
Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 8:00pm in CDT
Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 7:30pm in CDT
Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 8:00pm in CDT
Saturday, May 4, 2013 at 9:30pm in CDT
Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 8:00pm
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
McMenamins Old St. Francis School
Thursday, May 9, 2013
Saturday, May 11, 2013
McMenamins Hotel Oregon
Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 7:00pm in EDT
McMenamins Chrystal Ballroom
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
McMenamins Olympic Club
Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 8:00pm in PDT
The Triple Door
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Bainbridge Isle, WA
Friday, May 17, 2013
Sunbanks Rhythm & Blues Festival
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Sunbanks Music Festival
Hood River, OR
Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 6:00pm in PDT
Springhouse Cellar Winery
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 7:00pm in PDT
Strawberry Music Festival
Saturday, May 25, 2013 at 11:30am in PDT
The Strawberry Music Festival
Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 8:00pm in PDT
Pagosa Folk N’ Bluegrass Festival
Sunday, June 9, 2013 at 3:00pm
Pagosa Springs, CO
Friday, June 14, 2013 at 9:30pm in CDT
Thursday, June 20, 2013 at 8:00pm in EDT
Friday, June 21, 2013 at 8:00pm in EDT
The Purple Fiddle
Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 8:00pm in EDT
Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at 8:00pm in EDT