Monday, December 3, 2012

John C. Reilly, Wreak-It-Ralph comedic but is also a Folk Musician!

When the Hollywood actor John C. Reilly agreed to come to Australia to promote his latest film, Disney's animated Boxing Day release Wreck-It Ralph, he saw not just a dutiful cycle of media interviews and appearances but also an opportunity.

"Normally they let you bring someone with you," Reilly says, "And I was like, 'Well, I can bring a hairdresser or a publicist, but what would be most fun for me would be to bring some musicians and play for the people in Australia'."

Reilly got two musicians for the price of one hairdresser. While he spends his days doing the "bidding of Disney", he'll also play gigs at night in Sydney and Melbourne with Tom Brosseau and Becky Stark, the core members of John Reilly and Friends, a roots band that has distinguished itself over the past two years with a stream of gigs and several singles.

"It's becoming a second part of my career, but I'm not doing it to get more famous or make money. It's a true labour of love," says Reilly.

"We're bringing back music that not many people are playing these days," Reilly says. "We do eternal melodies and songs. Our prerequisite for the songs we play in our set is that the melody sticks with you if you play just one time, whether it is old folk music, country standards or bluegrass."

A John Reilly and Friends gig might feature songs by the Delmore Brothers (Blues Stay Away From Me), Patsy Cline (Wayward Wind), Claude Ely's There Ain't No Grave (Gonna Hold My Body Down) and the Everly Brothers (Let it Be Me). As dedicated revivalists, the group looks to the songs of these rock'n'roll pioneers, country seers and Pentecostal preachers instead of trying to write their own material.

The band's two singles, recorded by former White Stripes frontman Jack White at his Nashville home studio and released on his Third Man Records label, also dig into the bluegrass and country songbooks Reilly was first exposed to by his father.

The actor and musician grew up in a Chicago Irish-Catholic home, one of six children, and he learnt guitar by playing with family members and picking up on his home town's deep connection to blues music.

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