Here at Hello Texas, we spend a lot of time trying to "define" what Texas Music actually is. Is it a type of country music? A mix of country and rock? Maybe some Americana/folk music blended in with that? Is the singer/songwriter aspect of it the most important part of it?
Turns out the answer is an emphatic "YES" to all of those. But maybe no. Turns out, it depends on YOUR definition of what Texas Music is to define what it means. And that's a little different for every listener. For us, it's the character behind the songs and the effort to get those songs out to the public that makes Texas Music so valuable and something worth hanging on to. It doesn't matter if it's country or rock or soul or folk. It can be one or all of that. As long as there's meaning and passion behind the songwriting and performances. And that brings us to the debut album for a little band from Central Texas called Lilly and the Implements. It's what Texas Music is. And it's more. But let's start at the beginning.
Many years ago, my hobby of photographing music took me to a great little pub in downtown Temple, Texas, called O'Briens Irish Pub. It's a decades old establishment with a balcony, a wonderful bar and staff, and a unique stage, and is just a great place to have a drink and listen to some great local and regional music. Back then, there was a rock cover band by the name of Hanger 24. The unique thing about the band was it had two fabulous lead singers - Meagan Meek and Lilly Milford. After the band broke up, Meagan moved around (but is now back in the area). And Lilly just kept going. Acoustic gigs for years, giving up and trying to find another way, and then always coming back to the stage.
Lilly Milford off stage is humble and probably painfully shy, although she does a good job of battling through that. And through the years, I've watched Lilly perform numerous times. While unique, when I attempt to describe Lilly's voice and style, I describe it as the power Janis Joplin with the story-telling of Dusty Springfield. Off stage she is sweet and unassuming. But behind the microphone, Lilly comes alive. Not afraid to hit the notes with all that she has. Never afraid to take the song to where many don't dare to take it. The poetry is in the performance as much as it is in the voice.
A few years ago, Lilly was giving the gigging her best shot and asked longtime friend and singer-songwriter, Wes Perryman, to help her put a band together for a show in Austin. An amazing artist in his own right, Wes is a farmer from Moody, Texas, and his deep knowledge of rock and folk music has had him doing acoustic gigs right along the same timeline as Lilly. Wes just happened to have friendship with another amazing musician, Jon Napier, out of Austin, Texas. The two had been playing gigs together. And at Barrow Brewing Company in Salado, Texas, as luck would have it, a local drummer by the name of Evan Sheppard really dug their sound and asked if he could just jam with them. The timing couldn't have been more perfect. Wes suggested he bring Jon and Evan to rehearse with Lilly. The only catch was - Jon didn't want to play bass.
Then they rehearsed and the first sounds of Lilly and the Implements were heard. And Jon agreed to play bass.