Sarah Jarosz and The Black Lillies have both been added to the lineup — Sarah on the already chock full of talent Saturday and The Black Lillies making their Old Settler’s debut at the well-loved Sunday afternoon show at Camp Ben.
One of the most talked about young artists today, longtime festival goers know Sarah Jarosz from her early days at Old Settler’s when she won our first Youth Competion at age 11. Since signing to Sugar Hill Records at age 16, Sarah has barely stopped to catch her breath, even as she leaves audiences and critics alike breathless. Rolling Stone has compared her to Gillian Welch; Mojo labeled her a “newgrass prodigy” for her skills on banjo, guitar and mandolin; and the normally reserved New York Times hailed her as “one of acoustic music’s finest talents,” with songwriting chops to match her instrumental prowess.
Exciting as that all may sound, that was before. For with her new album Build Me Up From Bones, Sarah Jarosz, now 22, has graduated in every sense of the word. The album came to fruition as she finished college at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, and Bones incorporates the many lessons she learned there as she delved into other artistic realms. But we don’t need to tell you all that – her videos speak for themselves. Oh, and did we say she’s been nominated for a Grammy or three? Sarah’s “Build Me Up From Bones” on Craig Ferguson.
Hailing from Knoxville, Tennessee, The Black Lillies lead man Cruz Contreras and his bandmates – harmony vocalist Trisha Gene Brady, multi-instrumentalist Tom Pryor, bass player Robert Richards and drummer Bowman Townsend – have grown from a few friends sitting around campfires and living rooms to a band that shows up in far-flung cities where folks to whom they’ve never played before already know the words to the songs.
Some may recognize Cruz Contreras as the guy who loaned out his initials to Robinella and the CCstringband, which flirted with national fame a few years ago with a hit (“Man Over”) on Country Music Television, an appearance on “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” in 2003, and albums on both Sony and Dualtone, he was known best as a mandolin virtuoso and bandleader.
The Black Lillies have managed to conquer the Billboard Top 200 charts (Runaway Freeway Blues debuted at #43), put three tracks in Country Music Television’s top 12 requested videos, and film a nationally broadcast commercial for Twizzlers. They’ve been featured on numerous television specials and played festivals as widespread as Bonnaroo, Rochester Jazz Festival, MerleFest, and CMA Fan Fair. Despite trafficking in a richer, more authentic brand of country and Americana than what gets played on mainstream country radio, they’ve still been invited to perform at the Grand Ole Opry more than twenty times – a record for an independent act. Here’s a performance of “Smokestack Lady.”