Nashville Songwriter Series: Jim Reilley

Today his band probably would be played on AAA radio and maybe would have even won a few Americana Music Association awards. But in the late 1980s and throughout most of the 1990s, the band that Jim Reilley founded with co-writer Reese Campbell, The New Dylans, was lumped in with the “folk-rock” contingent. The New Dylans spent years living in vans and motels, opening for legendary acts and recording two critically-acclaimed albums, playing for festival audiences of thousands as well as rooms where there was nobody but a bartender. But in the late 1990s when Reilley decided to leave The New Dylans, which had had such ardent supporters as Natalie Merchant of 10,000 Maniacs and REM’s Michael Stipe, his future in the only thing he cared about – music – was uncertain. So Reilley took a direction that perhaps would have been unexpected for someone with his background. He moved to Nashville, where he soon was signed to Curb Music Publishing as a staff writer. For the next eight years Reilley labored in the song mill, garnering dozens of cuts on such country artists as Vince Gill, Hal Ketchum, Jack Ingram and others. He became a fixture on Music Row,…

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