Jim Reilley has over 50 cuts as a professional songwriter… And openly admits to having “the bruises to show for it.”
Born and raised in the small town of Warren, PA, Jim credits his hometown no-format AM radio station for the extensive range of his musical influences. “I heard everything from Buck Owens to the Beatles,” says Reilley. “I didn’t know it at the time, but I was developing this kind of creative musical freedom. I wasn’t inhibited by genre-specific styles. When I started writing, I always let the song choose its own direction, dictate its own style.”
Jim and childhood friend Reese Campbell formed their band, The New Dylans, and spent the best part of a decade touring the country, gaining both a cult following (including REM front man Michael Stipe and Natalie Merchant of 10,000 Maniacs) and high praise from some the industry’s toughest critics in top music publications, including Rolling Stone, Village Voice, Pulse, Spin and American Songwriter. Says Jim of his New Dylans’ years, “It was tough out there, especially with a band and no tour support. But I’m glad I did it. It certainly cemented my songwriting and performing abilities.”
After the New Dylans disbanded in 1997, Reilley, in what he calls “a leap of faith,” moved to Nashville, TN. With the help of industry friends, he met with some of the biggest publishing companies in the city, and set up a solo showcase at the world famous, Bluebird Café. Curb Music Publishing offered Reilley a deal that very night.
Over the next several years, Reilley secured over 50 cuts with some of Nashville’s biggest artists, including Vince Gill, Hal Ketchum, and Jack Ingram. “Nashville has humbled me in a good way,” says Jim. “Two kinds people come here: First, those who come here and get overwhelmed and leave, and second, those who come here and are humbled. They’re the ones who work to discover their place here, and how they can contribute to the unique atmosphere of this town.”
With dozens of cuts, does Jim Reilley think he has written a truly great song? If you ask him, his answer surprisingly would be “no.” “It’s not my place to say whether a song is great or not,” asserts Reilley. “Of course I’m always striving for greatness and am proud of a good number of my songs and surely enjoy performing them and hearing other peoples interpretations when they cut them. It’s what keeps me going in a business that can sometimes kick your ass.”
Reilley has spent his whole life studying music. Jim admits, “I’m a junkie, and a voracious music listener. I always challenge myself to find new music to explore. I think to be a good songwriter, you need to be a student of music, one who is continually trying to find and maintain your true artistic voice.”
After 30 years as a professional in the music business, Jim has a found a new home with RareSpark Media Group, and is planning both a new solo album and a reunion project with The New Dylans in 2013.