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B.B. King once said that playing the Blues was like having to be black twice. "Stevie Ray missed on both counts, but I never noticed," he concluded. The same can be said of Mike Reilly, who's played with both B.B. King and Stevie Ray. Mike may not be black, but he knows the Blues, and he's been playing them for a long time. Like Muddy Waters--another legend Mike's shared the stage with--he's still delivering 'cause he's got a long memory.

Mike ReillyMike remembers growing up in Fullerton, California during the sixties and seventies. He remembers the night his father, Robert, a Fullerton cop (and guitarist who used to jam with Django Reinhardt), accidentally busting up his drum kit. To replace the drums, his dad bought his nine year-old son a trombone. Musically precocious, in no time Mike was second chair in the school orchestra.

Mike remembers his first Rock album--The Allman Brothers Band ('69). And he remembers when, the following year, he bought an album that totally changed his life--Freddy King's Getting Ready. Mike, now thirteen, was ready-ready to play the Blues. (Mike was sitting in with the likes of Joe Cocker and The Pointer Sisters before he was old enough to be in a club.)

Sadly, Mike also remembers losing his big brother Bobby, a talented musician who died in 1980. Although there have been other musical influences in his life-from Duane Allman to Bill Champlin--none was more important than his brother Bobby.

That same year, Mike got into the Sharpshooter Band (with Wayne Sharp, Jaimoe Johnson and Lamar Williams). That gig led to Elvin Bishop. And from Elvin came gigs with Blues giants James Lee Hooker, Dr. John, Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, B.B. King, Stevie Ray, Albert Collins, Billy Gibbons and The Band.

Mike has had the rare opportunity of playing with most of the musicians who influenced him. Maybe this is why he sometimes refers to himself as the Forrest Gump of Rock. He's released four albums as The Mike Reilly Band (various artists at various times included Dan Toler, Taj Mahal, Kid Ramos, Garth Hudson and Gregg Allman), and these days He continues to perform with an All-star line up.

Speaking of teachings, Muddy Waters taught us, "you don't have to be the best one; just be a good 'un."

Without question, Mike is a good 'un. In fact, as this album will attest, he's one of Rockin'Blues very best.

By Dudley Clark