It should come as no surprise that John C. Reilly, beloved goofball of the acting world, has a lot of talented friends. Less surprising, if you have seen his starring role in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, is the fact that the man has a killer set of pipes. What is not so familiar, however, is John Reilly onstage — the sonorous man reinterpreting country classics with the help of a band and several guest voices. Belting out harmonies with guitarist Tom Brosseau and vocalist Becky Stark, Reilly adapted a different persona altogether for his performance at SOhO, resulting in a rare moment of poignancy from a man who is normally accustomed to making us laugh.
As a sold-out crowd found their seats, Little Indian began the evening with a diverse and mostly under-heard acoustic set. Covers of Johnny Cash and Portugal. The Man, peppered with original material in between, set the stage for the sole-stompers that lay ahead. Taking the stage to endearing cries of “Dewey!” and “Shake and bake!” Reilly and Co. delivered their own set of country and blues hits, such as Gogi Grant’s “The Wayward Wind” and the often-covered “Careless Love.” With the help of Stark, Reilly brought out the more sentimental material like Buck Owens’s 1964 hit “Crying Time,” nailing the delicate harmonies with a commanding stage presence.
Eventually, the band took a break as Reilly and Brosseau got into some bluesy duets, covering Cash, The Carter Family, and a nearly a cappella rendition of The Delmore Brothers’ “Gonna Lay Down My Old Guitar.” Rejoined by his acoustic quartet and Old Crow Medicine Show guitarist Willie Watson, they hammered out an encore that included a lively experiment with Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” and “Goodnight, Irene” to close out the night.