July 23, 2015 | doors at 8:30pm
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OK Productions presents:
Blake Rainey & his Demons | Ben Trickey
  • $12
  • $12
The Ike Reilly Assassination
Libertyville, IL native Ike Reilly is one of America’s best contemporary songwriters. The former gravedigger and hotel doorman made his major label debut in 2001 with the Universal release of the stunning Salesmen and Racists. He has recently completed his seventh studio recording, Born On Fire, and his live performances both as a solo performer and as the leader of the ferocious Ike Reilly Assassination have garnered him a cult following and high praise from critics. David Carr of the New York Times said, “Ike Reilly is a kind of natural resource, mined from the bedrock of music. All the values that make rock important to people—storytelling, melody, rage, laughter—are part and parcel of every Ike Reilly show I have ever seen. One of the best touring acts in the country, Reilly’s band takes it as a personal challenge to upend and amaze every room they play in.”

Reilly’s new album, Born On Fire (Rock Ridge Music/ Firebrand Records) captures a songwriter at his best, and a band nimble enough to serve a diverse group of songs that required both recklessness and finesse. The songs on Born On Fire traverse R&B, punk, blues, folk, and rock & roll but are wholly original. Reilly uses humor to combat despair as his songs tell tales of love, lust, struggle, drugs, drinking and the underdog. Born On Fire was mostly recorded at IV Lab in Chicago, IL. Reilly’s longtime friend and Assassination guitar player Phil Karnats (Secret Machines, Polyphonic Spree) worked with Reilly and the band on production and the result is a group of rock & roll songs that would be hard to put in a specific era. Reilly said his hope for the record was that it sound like it could have been made “somewhere between the mid ’60s and the early 2050’s.”

Tom Morello founder of Firebrand Records said, “There’s something in the water in my hometown of Libertyville. Marlon Brando, Adam Jones of Tool, my humble self, and now Ike Reilly. Ike is not just a great, authentic songwriter of the highest caliber but he’s always ready to throw down at a union rally… or a bar fight. Ike’s songs are a poetic cracked window into the lives of the heartland heroes trying to get by, find and keep love, and carve a place for themselves with humor and dignity. But we love him most because at the drop of a hat he’ll travel 1,000 miles to play one song for a dying anti-war veteran. We are very proud to have heartland hero, Ike Reilly, on Firebrand Records.”

The Ike Reilly Assassination is made up of David Cottini, Phil Karnats, Pete Cimbalo, and Adam Krier.
Blake Rainey & his Demons
The title track from Blake Rainey and His Demons’ latest album, Helicopter Rose, is about rescue, and it’s a theme that carries throughout the new record, one populated with stories of forlorn barflies, tattered relationships, and other hard-luck realities of modern life.

“The song ‘Dear Brother’ is about a soldier who’s lost at war, and all of his family and friends are drinking at this bar where he used to hang out, wishing he was there,” Rainey says of the record’s opening track, a dusty roots-rock cut topped off with splashes of Sprinsgsteen-esque Americana. “The record deals with this constant struggle to be rescued from something, whether it be addiction, bad love—or being in the military and being captured by enemy forces.”

Rainey has earned his share of acclaim over the past 15 years. His previous band, the Young Antiques, won Rainey critical accolades for his rollicking mix of power pop and roots rock, including high marks from SPIN, PopMatters, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and more. But it took the Antiques’ dissolution for Rainey to push his songwriting into deeper thematic waters. Citing inspiration from lyricists including Tom Waits, Elvis Costello and Paul Westerberg, Helicopter Rose is checkered with smart wordplay and sharp storytelling in the tradition of his legendary influences.

“I’ve always been drawn to people who write songs that are very unique,” Rainey says. “It takes a talent, or at least an attention to detail, to write lines that aren’t just like ‘Hey baby baby baby.’ You want to try and spin a story that you haven’t heard before. Or maybe you’ve heard it before, but there are interesting new twists in the song that make it fresh.”

And this is exactly what Rainey pulls off with Helicopter Rose. While much of the record is rooted in typically sad-eyed country music fodder, Rainey displays an uncanny knack for turning otherwise painful stories into songs that are, by turns, thought-provoking and amusing. “Go Find Yourself Another Barroom” is about the territorial lines that are drawn at the end of a relationship—a custody battle over a barstool at a couple’s favorite corner dive. “Every Time I’m Thinking Of You,” meanwhile, chronicles the long journey toward acceptance that comes in the wake of a breakup.

“In the song, there’s this guy getting drunk, and he’s heartbroken over this girl,” Rainey says of the Byrds-channeling country rocker. “Then in the middle of the song, at the bridge, he drops this line, ‘The forgetful part is I too broke your heart.’ By the end, you start to realize the narrator isn’t exactly as reliable as you thought. You’re not sure what you can trust coming out of his mouth. I really love using an unreliable narrator. It can add a whole new layer.”

Helicopter Rose also represents new territory for Rainey, musically. A native Georgian, he grew up with country music staples such as Johnny Cash, George Jones, and Waylon Jennings on the stereo. But with the Young Antique’s power-pop approach, there was little room to incorporate his love of country. After recording and touring with the band, off and on, for more than a decade, Rainey released his first record with the Demons, The Dangerous Summer, in 2007. The band's sophomore effort, Love Don’t Cross Me,followed in 2014. “The Demons have freed me up to do different stuff,” Rainey says. “With the Antiques, we mainly did all these fast, rocking songs. I never had a chance to do crazy country licks or anything like that.”

The first two Demons records found Rainey refining his songwriting style to canvas the full scope of his tastes and influences.Helicopter Rose, though, represents a more deliberate push to find where punk rock meets country, where Merle Haggard crosses paths with The Replacements. It took his backing band of drummer Eric Young, guitarist Aaron Mason, and bassist Joe Foy—a seasoned veteran of New York City’s CBGB punk scene—to bring his eclectic vision to life. Rainey also enlisted the services of revered steel guitar player Steve Stone to give the songs some added country authenticity.

Helicopter Rose also reunited Rainey with longtime friend and producer Tim Delaney, a former understudy of Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam producer Brendan O’Brien.

“We labored over the mixes for a while until we got it exactly where we liked it,” Rainey says of working with Delaney. “The cool thing—he’s a friend of mine, so I never really felt like I was on the clock. That can kind of kill creativity when you’re like, ‘Ok, we need to get this done now.’ Instead, we were able to take the time to do things right, and let the creative process unfold at its own pace.”

With recording wrapped, Rainey and the Demons are shooting a video for the record’s first single, “Losing My Way,” which will be out in November. He also plans to tour behind the record, both solo and with His Demons, in the months ahead.
Ben Trickey
"Honest record. Real shit."
-Marc Maron
"Ben Trickey’s songs are about as dark as country songs get...he taps into all those lonesome cowboys—Prine, Van Zandt, even contemporaries like Jason Molina..."
-Matthew Fiander

Ben Trickey is a layman's existentialist, a dive-bar philosopher both driven and paralyzed by a deep fascination with life's greatest question. In his songs, he perpetually contemplates his purpose, and with a wounded, wary croon, his dark indie-folk struggles for hope in the face of desolation.

Mined from personal experience, Trickey's writing finds metaphors in the grime and grim sentiments of the Dirty South and his hometown of Atlanta. He's battled his insecurities playing hushed sets opening for luminaries such as Jason Isbell, Phosphorescent, Vic Chesnutt and Damien Jurado, in the process earning accolades from outlets like No Depression, PopMatters and even a shout-out from comedian Marc Maron.