Dustin Schaefer Leaves The Black Lillies, To Fill In with Reckless Kelly

Dustin “Dusty” Schaefer (photo: Brad Coolidge)

Guitarist Dustin “Dusty” Schaefer has left the Knoxville-based roots band The Black Lillies, and will be pursuing his solo career henceforth. But not before he will take the lead guitar spot recently vacated in Austin-based alt-country band Reckless Kelly for a stint starting in mid April.

In February, Reckless Kelly guitarist David Abeyta announced that he was leaving the band where he’d been a fixture for nearly 20 years to spend more time closer to home and focus on studio work. A fan favorite, the “Mexicutioner” was seminal in helping to forge the now signature sound of Reckless Kelly.

“I’ll be taking some time away from the road to spend more time with my wife and son, get my ‘batteries’ recharged, and work on production projects,” Abeyta said at the time. “I’d like to think you might see us onstage or in the studio together again at some point … Most of my favorite bands have gone through major changes – growth and forward motion are everything…and Reckless Kelly will always be my favorite band.”

This led to a lot of speculation on who might fill in for David Abeyta, but now we know that staring in mid April, it will be Dustin Schaefer, who played his final show with The Black Lillies on Sunday, March 17th at The Blue Door in Oklahoma City.

“It’s very bittersweet for me to leave after becoming so invested in the band and helping create what I consider the best body of musical work I’ve been a part of to date, but at the end of the day it’s been a helluva great ride and I’m thankful for the experience!” Dustin Schaefer said on social media. “I’m moving back to the central Texas area here in the next month or so and putting all my time and energy into my solo career for the foreseeable future. Nashville has been great, and I respect the hell out of anyone that is hustling and playing the game out here, but Texas is my heart and soul and it’s simply time for me to return home to the place where my music career began.”

But before dedicating himself to his solo career, Schaefer will be filling in with Reckless Kelly. “I’ve seen more RK shows than any other group by a pretty comfortable margin so I’m stoked to step in and take on the challenge of having to follow Dave—who is easily the most epic live guitar player I know.”

The Black Lillies addressed the departure, assuring there was no drama surrounding Schaefer leaving, saying, “We’re going to miss the hell out of Dusty, but he’s got an amazing opportunity to focus on his solo career and we are 100% supportive.”

Some may know Dustin Schaefer from his solo work first, or from other projects in the Texas music scene. Originally from Victoria, TX, Dustin joined Micky and the Motorcars in 2011, and has played on studio recordings for a host of other artists, including Reckless Kelly and Parker McCollum. Schaefer released his first solo album Playtime in 2016, and his second album Disconnected in 2017. He hopes to have his third album finished by later in 2019.

Who has been filling in on guitar for Reckless Kelly in the interim? At recent shows it has been another solo performer, Jeff Crosby, who has been a close friend and tour partner of Reckless Kelly for years. Crosby has been playing lead for the last two weeks in the band.