How’s this for a confession? This reverend does not get the chance to make it out to shows very often since becoming a father. Yet when I got wind that John C Reilly & Friends were playing a church in my adopted home town of Santa Monica, I pulled off a miracle and got myself down to the ‘Sanctuary’ inside the Methodist Church on Hill Street for a night of folk music.
The night kicked off with songs from Simone White. Armed with only her guitar and vocals, White stunned the crowd with her well-crafted songs. Declaring early on that the over-capacity (thank God I was near a fire exit) was the best she had ever performed in front of, White’s vocals were as impressive as they were beautiful. With all but one songs focusing on love (the one exception was a song about an elderly friend) nervously executed everything wonderful about Joni Mitchell in a day and age of Nicki Minaj. Indeed a heavenly way to kick off a night in the house that God built.
With just about every inch of available floor now covered, the second band of the night was RT n’ the 44s. While I can respect and appreciate music like Simone White, RT n’ the 44s was much more up my alley. They at one point described their music as “depressing songs about outlaws” which sounded like the perfect Friday night soundtrack to me. The four-piece ripped through a set that included such songs as Black Rain, Captain Jack and Black Bart. Not even sound trouble could stop RT and his gang from making everyone in the crowd forget that they were sitting in the middle of a church.
Musically I would describe the Los Angeles locals as Gold Miner Punk as they could win over a crowd at both Warped Tour and Stagecoach. Saving the best for last, the band closed with a song declaring that corporations are indeed Satan. It was a fitting way to close a set where they refused to play their dirty songs while winning over every soul who made the $5-10 donation to enter through the door.
The night ended with a headline set from Academy Award nominated actor John C Reilly. With our Northwest chapter raving about his performance last year as the Sasquatch Music Festival my expectations were high. Thankfully, Reilly and his friends didn’t just meet them; they blew them out of the water (even if we don’t agree on video recording at concerts as you can see down below).
With the entire set consisting of songs originally written by other musicians, I will be the first to admit I didn’t recognize much of what was performed. Yet with anywhere from 1-4 musicians huddled around one microphone, you couldn’t help but be captivated by these classic American spirituals being performed in an old (by Southern California standards) church. From Dolly Parton to The Stanley’s, Reilly along with Becky Stark, Tom Brosseau and Willie Watson cranked out a heavy mix of Americana classics and gut busting comedy.
Going well past the 10pm sharp curfew, John C Reilly & Friends was a great way to kick off my 2013 concert calendar. Oh and I have to think that as an acting/singing double threat, God will forgive Reilly for dropping all of those curse words inside his house.