Home > Around Town > Chicago-based Rocker/Raconteur Ike Reilly Returns to Fort Wayne

Chicago-based Rocker/Raconteur Ike Reilly Returns to Fort Wayne

By Ben Larson

Fort Wayne Reader


On February 16th of this year Chicago-based musician Ike Reilly released his latest album Hard Luck Stories, and on Saturday, May 1st, he will be performing two shows here in Fort Wayne. The first will be at 6:00pm, and will be a solo acoustic performance at the One Lucky Guitar office at 1301 Lafayette. The second will be an all-out rock show with Ike and his band, The Assassination at CS3’s Tiger Room, located at 1915 Calhoun. Doors for the latter performance will open at 9:00, and will feature local openers The B-Sharps.

Produced by Reilly and Ed Tinley, Hard Luck Stories features guest performances from the likes of none other than Shooter Jennings and Cracker’s David Lowery. The album was recently praised by Chicago Magazine for its “outlandish storytelling, underdog combativeness and slapstick humor,” and Cincinnati City Beat described the album as containing “scuffed and noir-ish tales of modern life. ...fusing dirty R&B grooves into his swaggering Pop/Roots sound... Ike Reilly’s most amazing accomplishment over the past decade is that every new album is his best ever and yet the new one in no way ever diminishes the greatness of his existing catalog.”

I got a chance to interview Ike, and I asked him about the album, the difference between an “Ike Reilly” release (as opposed to an Assassination album), and also tried to get the scoop on how he creates these albums that instantly (and simultaneously) remind the listener of early-electric Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, and, to an extent, Tom Waits.

Last time Reilly played in Fort Wayne was when he was promoting 2007’s We Belong to the Staggering Evening, and so naturally I asked what’s been going on with him since then. “I took some time off from touring,” he said, “and then I recorded this record . . . and now I wanna go out and tour some more. So that’s what we’re gonna do.” Actually, he did a little cheating as far as the touring break goes. “I’ve been playing a few shows, you know. Just a lot of promo shows. I think I was on tour with Tom Morello [of Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave, and The Nightwatchman] between the Staggering Evening and the record before Hard Luck Stories. And then I did a lot of solo performing, and then I did stop touring.”

“I guess this is the most long term [string of] successive dates, a bunch of ten-day runs between now and the end of the year. We’re gonna be on Lollapalooza this year as well, as well as a lot of east coast trips.”

In regards to why Reilly releases some of his albums under the Ike Reilly Assassination name, and others are simply Ike Reilly releases, he had this to say: “I guess my band appears on all of the records in one shape or form. I believe Staggering Evening was an Assassination record and that was just with the whole band, nobody else. This album was a little more isolated from the band that I had before.”

As to how the sound is different between an Assassination album and an Ike Reilly release, he said “as far as music critic terms are concerned, this album as stories that are more easy to grasp.” I should interject here and say that Reilly’s lyrical style has always been firmly rooted in a story-telling vein (my favorite track of Staggering Evening recalls an altercation while at a Violent Femmes concert). Anyway, he continued, saying “that doesn’t make it any more mature or less mature. It just worked out that way after I picked out the songs when I finished recording. They’re just easier to grasp, as opposed to being more about the images.” He then went on, adding “on this one, the casual listener can say ‘hey, that song’s about a guy who has a daughter, and he gets busted for selling weed and he goes to jail.”

In other words, Reilly has simplified his storytelling to include material that is perhaps more relatable to people who may not be familiar with, say the Violent Femmes. “All my songs tell stories,” he said, “it’s just that these are easier to grasp. These stories are about compromise, and compromising situations based on living in America. They’re really not for the upper three percent of the income bracket.” For the differences in the music itself, there’s really not too much that has changed, other than some of the differences that come from adding guest appearances. Reilly said “as for this record, I did have some guests. I do a duet with Shooter Jennings [along with the appearance by Lowery]. It’s also a little looser in some ways, and I think it has a more celebratory feel to it as well,” meaning that Reilly truly grasps the American experience, and lauds it for both the good and bad aspects of life here.

Previously, Reilly was known for doing what he called “drive-bys” while on tour, which basically entailed the band rolling into a given town, deciding that they just weren’t feeling it, and leaving town without playing the gig. That being said, I couldn’t help but finish up the interview by asking him if these were still a regular occurrence for Reilly and co. After laughing (and seeming a bit surprised that I had done my homework), he said “no drive bys, Ben. I have tried to avoid the drive bys from here on out, and I can guarantee Fort Wayne won’t be one.”

So make sure you catch either the OLG or Tiger Room shows on May 1 (really, though, I recommend both, as they look to be two completely unique experiences) and see some honest, straightforward rock with a big dose of heart.

Ike Reilly comes to town Saturday, May 1
Tickets for the Ike Reilly shows are $9 for the One Lucky Guitar acoustic show (1301 Lafayette at 6 PM)
$7 for the Tiger Room Show (1915 Calhoun Street, doors at 8:30)
$15 for both shows.
Tickets available at brownpapertickets.com

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