Chicagoland rocker Ike Reilly played a solo acoustic show at northern Virginia venue Jammin’ Java last Thursday, July 28. In May, the 54-year-old Reilly released his seventh studio album, Crooked Love, and his tour brought him to metro D.C. Reilly recorded Crooked Love (Rock Ridge Music) with a full electric band, and he had his work cut out for him.
Thursday’s concert was my first trip to Jammin’ Java, owned by the Brindley Brothers who also own Union Stage in D.C.’s wharf area. This 200-capacity venue located in a suburban Vienna, Virginia strip mall looks, at first, unlikely to have once made Paste magazine’s top 40 music clubs. But despite its small size, the venue has booked, at various stages in their career, some huge names in Americana, including The Civil Wars, Leon Russell, Brandi Carlile, and The Milk Carton Kids. The club offers a straightforward concert experience with fantastic sound.
Reilly, a native of the Chicago suburb Libertyville, started playing in bands as a student at Milwaukee’s Marquette University in the ’80s. After graduating, he moved to Chicago and played in several bands in the late ’80s and early ’90s, until he decided to retire from playing music. In the next several years, he worked as a freelance production assistant and opened the Diamond City Recording Studio. In 1998, Reilly started recording again, and this time around, his demo tapes attracted some high-profile attention, leading to his debut album, Salesmen and Racists (Umvd). His next three albums were made with his backing band, and were released under The Ike Reilly Assassination. These were followed by three more albums released under his own name.
Ike took the stage – bare wood in front of an exposed brick wall – at 9 and played a main set about an hour long. He opened with a song from his new album, “Boltcutter Again,” which tackles President Trump’s travel ban and religion.
Many of the songs Ike played and the stories he told revolved around his upbringing in suburban Chicago. At one point, he said, he had signed up for the Marine Officer training corps. He told his father, a career Navy veteran, expecting him to react with pride, but instead was berated. “What the hell did you that for?” Ike’s father asked. “I spent 30 years in the service so you wouldn’t have to!” “That,” Ike told the audience, “is the sense of patriotism I was brought up with.”
Introducing a “love song” he played, Ike told another entertaining story about his father. Ike said he found an old poem by his father, and it didn’t sound like his father’s voice at all. Ike looked at the date on this poem, and asked his father, “Dad is this about Mom?” Ike then told the audience, “If there’s three people you don’t want to hear about f*@king your mom, one of them’s the Devil.” Ike also told his father that he would set the poem to music, and maybe make his dad famous. “You can’t even make yourself famous!” his father exclaimed, laughing him off.
Ike played a great show for a passionate audience. If you like rock – straight-up rock and roll – make sure to catch Ike Reilly for an evening of awesome music, great stories, and hilarious banter. Check for his tour dates, here. http://www.ikereilly.net/