Actor John C. Reilly Takes A Musical Turn - Meet 'John Reilly And Friends'

Feb 5, 2015

Credit judy h via Flickr CC /

“The world is a richer place when we encourage artistic expression in everybody, not just in very well-known, public figures, but in our everyday lives.”

From old sea songs to back-porch tunes, America’s folk music is as diverse as those who play it. Playing in theaters in Somerville, Massachusetts and back seats of Black Cabs in London, John Reilly and Friends have brought bluegrass music to the world in a whole different way. We spoke to John C. Reilly, actor and musician, and felt the need to spread his band’s music far and wide!

You can hear John Reilly and Friends perform Friday at the Somerville Armory in Somerville, Massachusetts – it’s definitely a show you won’t want to miss.

“There’s a sincerity to the music that we take pretty seriously – we don’t do satirical songs … we do old traditional folk, and bluegrass, and country music. And our kind of criteria for the music we choose to do is stuff that has an eternal quality, not just a spiritually eternal quality, but just a musically eternal quality.”

And their music illustrates sincerity and eternal quality beautifully. Here’s John Reilly and Friends in their Black Cab Session in London. The song, “Sweet Rosyanne,” is an old one, an eternal one. There are many versions – it seems that no two are ever the same – so here’s theirs:

John Reilly & Friends - Rosyanne from Black Cab Sessions on Vimeo.

“I think it’s actually kind of funny these days at how surprised people are that actors can sing or dance or do things other than acting. Because not too long ago, it was expected of actors that you sing, dance …”

They’re not dancing here, but you’ll want to. Here’s their performance for NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert.