- Left to right: Fionn Regan, John C Reilly, Becky Stark and Tom Brosseau
Currently on a tour of the UK promoting the new Disney movie Wreck-It Ralph, John C Reilly took it upon himself to spend his down time a little more wisely than merely hanging out at the Groucho. Calling up Chris from Black Cab Sessions from his Nashville home, Reilly left a voicemail reciting the time the two met whilst Black Cab were filming their inaugural TV show in the States during 2011. A special concert was hastily organised, just so John could play a few songs to a select few – although he wasn’t really sure if “anyone would actually come”.
A long-time fan and supporter of the country and roots music scene, the Step Brothers star is – unbeknown to many – actually an accomplished musician, whose knowledge of the old American songbook on par with many an ‘expert’ in the field. Alongside acclaimed singer-songwriter Tom Brousseau (potentially the most handsome man on earth) and the frightfully charming Becky Stark (of twee folk-poppers Lavender Diamond), Reilly spent 90 minutes delving deep into some of country music’s most treasured artefacts in the grand yet beautifully intimate surroundings of St Giles Church, just off Denmark Street – arguably London’s answer to Nashville’s Main Street.
Gathered around just a single microphone, the trio (plus a singular guest appearance from Irish troubadour Fionn Regan) explored the very core of what makes country music such a vital entity. Revenge, heartbreak and God-fearing cautionary tales were interspersed with Reilly’s wonderful between song banter and candid anecdotes. Focusing primarily on the pre-1950s traditional songbook, the small audience were treated to frightfully tender torch songs that Reilly explained are “a part of everyone but perhaps long forgotten. (So) we’re bringing them back and passing them on to you so they can continue to live in your heart long after the show”.
Performing songs from the archives of such country luminaries as Dolly Parton, Ray Price and The Delmore Brothers – Reilly and friends provided this privileged London audience a delightful history lesson into a genre that’s so wrongfully side-stepped by the modern day music fan. The fact it took a Hollywood A-lister to deliver the gospel sorta just makes the whole evening that little bit extra special. Heart stopping, breathtaking and soul searching – just like a classic country song of yesteryear – John C Reilly delivered a faultless performance and perhaps more importantly, re-ignited a burning desire to delve deep into country music’s rich archives once again.