KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Black Lillies would sure love to have their instruments back, but the Knoxville, Tenn.-based Americana band have been blown away by the outpouring of support they’ve received following the theft of their van, trailer and gear early Monday while they slept in a Houston, Texas, motel.
The unexpected silver lining from losing one-of-a-kind vintage instruments, personal belongings and merchandise including copies of their October release, Hard to Please (only their van was recovered), has been a massive show of love from fans, fellow players and others sympathetic to their plight. In fact, the band gained 1,500 new social media fans in a 24-hour period. As word spread of the theft, social media took over; the band’s Facebook post went viral and a fan-requested donation site raised more than $40,000 in two days to help cover substantial costs not borne by insurance — including the true value of their instruments.
“From venues who are calling to offer us gigs, to musicians calling to offer us gear, to people literally offering us the clothes off of their backs, to members of the media from all over the country who are calling to ask what more they can do to spread the word, to friends, fans, strangers donating money to help with the gap between what the insurance will cover and what was lost … every email, tweet, call, post, smoke signal is showing us the beauty that is out there,” the Black Lillies posted in response. “We will never be able to tell you what it means to us. Just know that you’re getting us through this, and we love you for it.”
The band discovered the theft at 6 a.m. Monday, Jan. 25, as they prepared to return home for a short break after weeks on the road. Surveillance video showed someone had driven up to their vehicle and, in less than two minutes, driven away with it — along with their heavily padlocked trailer and its contents, totaling over $100,000.
Determined not to miss an already sold-out show Jan. 29 at the Willow Tree in Johnson City, Tenn., the band packed up borrowed and rented gear. They’re offering a reward for information leading to the return of their purloined stuff. (An amount will be announced after details are worked out with Houston-area police.) In answer to those wondering what else they can do to help the Black Lillies (or other bands in the same unfortunate boat), manager Chyna Brackeen respectfully suggests:
- Attend an upcoming show. Now more than ever, it will do the band tremendous good to see people enjoying the music.
- Buy their music. If you already have it, turn a friend onto it (they don’t mind if you burn CDs and share them). It’s available at independent record stores and other brick-and-mortar retailers as well as online at theblacklillies.com, Amazon
.com, and iTunes. (If your local store doesn’t have it in stock, request they order it from distributor Sony RED.)
- Spread the word about the instruments and help track them down. Let’s make it impossible for these guys to sell them without getting caught. (View a list of the stolen gear, with serial numbers, here.)
- If you love a touring musician, buy them a GPS vehicle tracker or anti-theft device in the Black Lillies’ honor. They don’t want to see this happen to other people. If you do that, please let the band know via Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #theblacklillies.
- Call your local radio stations and ask them to play the band’s music. It’s a great way to show support and hopefully will help us gain a few new fans along the way.
The Black Lillies have already shown a knack for recovering from adversity — they lost two members just before entering the studio to record Hard to Please yet still managed to release their strongest album to date — the band is more determined than ever to stay on the road and deliver their music the best way they know how: by performing live for their fans.
As No Depression columnist Easy Ed noted, “While the Black Lillies have suffered a terrible loss, I suspect that they’ve also got something in return that will feel very special over time. To have met people along the way who’ve been touched by your music — who will extend a helping hand in time of need — is something nobody can ever take from them.”
Ironically, the band made a music video two years ago for their song “Smokestack Lady” in which founder/frontman Cruz Contreras plays a cop chasing down a couple of vehicle thieves. Catch the clever video — which conveys their live energy and the sound Rolling Stone Country hails as “country music with a soul-rock infusion, supported by smart songwriting and tight musicianship” — here.
To support the band with a donation, click rally.org/theblacklillies. (Donors outside of the U.S. can use this Paypal link.) To report information regarding the band’s stolen property, email email@example.com.
The Black Lillies will bloom in Shepherdstown,WV this Friday, August 5th at Shepherdstown Opera House.
Tickets: $15.00. Available here: http://bit.ly/2aKTYBW
Follow the band here: