The Black Lillies recently performed to an intimate, relatively subdued crowd at Ramona California’s historic Mainstage Theater. But that didn’t keep the band from performing as if they were in front of a sold-out stadium. The latest iteration of the band from Knoxville, TN is founding member Cruz Contreras on vocals, guitar and keyboards, Sam Quinn on bass and vocals, drummer Bowman Townsend, and guitarist/vocalist Dustin Schaefer.
They played songs from their latest album Stranger to Me as well as older songs from the band’s four previous albums. The setlist included Midnight Stranger, Weighting (written and sung by bassist Quinn), and Earthquake, all from Stranger to Me. Songs from previous albums included Ruby and Goodbye Charlie and Catherine a song Contreras wrote for his grandfather, a World War II pilot, from 2013’s Runaway Freeway Blues. From the 2015 album Hard to Please the band did a song Contreras penned for his other grandfather, an Iwo Jima veteran, called Broken Shore.
I have been waiting years to see the Black Lillies, and though this was not the band I originally fell in love with, this foursome manages to keep the harmonies and feeling of even the older songs true to the originals. They did not disappoint.
Opening up the night was local Ramona band, Farm Truck. Every time I see these guys they keep getting better. They are currently putting the finishing touches on a live EP that was actually recorded at Ramona Mainstage. Hopefully that will be released in the very near future.