Reilly, ‘Crooked Love’ come to Youngstown

Ike Reilly has played his share of Youngstown venues over the years, from Cedars Lounge and the old Nyabinghi to the always colorful Royal Oaks and the small theater inside the Calvin Center.

“I want to see every weird (expletive) joint in Youngstown and hit it,” the Libertyville, Ill., musician said during a telephone interview.

He’ll add the newly opened Westside Bowl to his list of Mahoning Valley sites on Sunday with a solo acoustic show in support of his new album “Crooked Love.”

Reilly said he had a lot of material to pick from when he went into the studio, and he chose the ones that worked together musically.

“Sonically, there’s a vibe that connected them, for sure,” he said. “They weren’t, with the exception of ‘Bolt Cutter,’ overtly political, but there’s still a storytelling vibe in the songs, kind of a quirky, off-kilter blues feel to them, but not what people think when you say blues. They also to me sound like they could have been recorded a long time ago or 10 years from now.”

Youngstown was one of the first places Reilly ever played “Bolt Cutter,” a song inspired by the travel ban President Donald Trump announced in 2017 against six-Muslim-majority countries. He played the Calvin Center last year right after the travel ban was announced, and it blends a bizarre tale of a guy who calls up his local DJ for help in freeing his girlfriend, who is being detained at the airport, with a pointed political message about the American Dream — “When your dreams get stole, you got to steal them back.”

And while Reilly describes the rest of album as not political, one of the other tracks is directly inspired by the current president. “Took It Lyin’ Down” is about Reilly’s days as a doorman at an upscale Chicago hotel 30 years ago. Reilly escorted Trump and first wife Ivana to the “presidential suite,” gave him the full tour — and got stiffed for a tip.

“‘Took It Lyin’ Down’ is a personal anecdote. It just happened that guy became a politician,” Reilly said. “It’s really about my protagonist taking s—, but it was definitely inspired by my interaction with the commander-in-chief before he was president.”

Reilly is doing a solo tour with his guitar and harmonica in support of the record — an economic necessity for a guy with a critically acclaimed body of work but without a hit record or the mass audience that makes it easier to cover the expenses of traveling with a band. But that doesn’t mean it will be a staid, mellow affair.

“The shows take on a different feel,” Reilly said. “I’m a little more free to go in any direction I want. The songs have a similar vibe. They’re obviously not as raucous certainly, but you can hear every word and they still kind of rock.”


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