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John C. Reilly goes country with a little help from his friends

John C. Reilly, Becky Stark, and Tom Brosseau of John C. Reilly & Friends will perform at the Bootleg Bar tonight.
John C. Reilly, Becky Stark, and Tom Brosseau of John C. Reilly & Friends will perform at the Bootleg Bar tonight.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

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Actor John C. Reilly is known for his comic roles in films like "Talladega Nights" and "Step Brothers," and also for his dramatic performances in films like "Magnolia" and "We Need to Talk About Kevin."

But acting isn't his only forte. He also fronts a country band called John Reilly and Friends with Becky Stark of the band Lavender Diamond, and guitarist Tom Brosseau.

"I've always been playing music since I was a little kid, singing in musicals. Then I taught myself to play the guitar, and I got more and more interested in music," said Reilly. "We came up with this Roots music revue, and it's a rotating cast of people that I sing duets with...everything from old country standards to old vocal bluegrass stuff. Songs from the roots of the tree of song."

The band just released two singles on Jack White's Thirdman Records label, and they stopped by the Take Two studio to play us some tunes. 

Interview Highlights:

What attracted you to this early Americana/country music?
"I'm drawn to stuff, for whatever reason, that seems eternal. I'm really fascinated by why this assembly of notes with these words stands the test of time. There are thousands of songs written that year, in 1895. Why did this melody carry on? In some ways I suppose it's a reaction to the world and the way things move so quickly and how quickly we discard things in our world. I guess I'm just drawn to eternal magic."

What was it like making the jump from film actor to playing tiny clubs?
"It took a little bit of time to get comfortable with that. I think one of the reasons I became an actor is because I'm really happy inhabiting masks. There were some growing pains in our very first shows, where people were screaming "Shake And Bake!" at the shows, people that just knew my name from comedy…Then we come and we start doing songs from the 1930s or old Bluegrass spirituals. But to the audience's credit, once people hear what we're doing and get the spirit of what we're doing we've had I'd say 100-percent satisfaction rate. I sort of use the fact that people know my name to bring people together and then turn them on to Tom Brosseau and Beck Stark and Dan Byrne and WIlly Watson…I feel like I'm the chum in the fishing boat, throw this in the water this will bring all the fish towards the boat then once they get there we share this special happening with them."

Catch John Reilly and Friends at the Bootleg Bar in Los Angeles on Jan. 18. Click here to get tickets