Mike Reid Raves about This Performance of The Ballad of Little Jo

Jun 6, 2017

Mike Reid's musical comes to Two River Theater this month
Credit Two River Theater for WBGO

Singer-Songwriter and legendary football star Mike Reid is always looking to what's next in his life.  One of the musicals he's written is running at Two River Theater in Red Bank, NJ from June 3rd through June 25th. 

Reid wrote the music for The Ballad of Little Jo in 1997, but he thinks this performance of the show will be the best yet.  The book by Reid, Sarah Schlesinger and John Dias was based on the film The Ballad of Little Joe by Maggie Greenwald.

"I've worked in the world of opera, chamber music and country and pop songs, there's nothing more difficult, I can't think there's anything that comes close to the difficulty of getting a musical right.  It's the most collaborative form I've experienced.  You can not do this on your own."

Mike Reid and WBGO's Doug Doyle at Two River Theater
Credit Cassie Gallsetti for WBGO

Reid says this musical about the American West is inspired by the real-life-story of Josephine Monaghan. Monaghan was a young woman from Boston who, in the late 19th century, made a new life in an Idaho mining town disguised as a man called “Jo.”

"There's a lot of areas to wander in there and figure out why would a person do that?  And that's what we try to tell."

Mike Reid is a man of many talents.  He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame after a brilliant career at Penn State under head coach Joe Paterno.  The defensive lineman was part of two undefeated seasons there and won the Outland and Maxwell trophies in his senior year at PSU.

Reid was a first-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 1970.  The Altoona, PA native made All-Pro two seasons on the defensive line, creating havoc for opposing quarterbacks. 

One of many Mike Reid football cards in the 70's
Credit Doug Doyle for WBGO

Playing in the head-slap era, Reid was ferocious pass rusher for the Bengals.  He finished his career in Cincinnati with a total of 49 sacks.

"There are certain rules, you can't punch people, but there's no rule against how hard you can hit someone.  I wanted to play the game on as high and intense level as I possibly could."

Reid expressed concern about concussions and talked about his thoughts during the SportsJam with Doug Doyle interview he did in May at Two River Theater.

Mike Reid remembers playing the piano at three years old
Credit Country Music Hall of Fame

In 1980, Reid moved to Nashville, and quickly became known as an in-demand songwriter.  Four years later, Reid won a Grammy Award for Best Country Song with Stranger in My House, which was recorded by Ronnie Milsap. He was also featured as a guest vocalist on Milsap's Old Folks.

One of Reid's 12 #1 hits is Bonnie Raitt's standard I Can't Make You Love Me, a song he co-wrote with Allen Shamblin.  That song has also been recorded by many artists including Prince, George Michael and Adele and on a 2013 cd by jazz vibraphonist Joe Locke.

Reid's recorded his own #1 hit Walk On Faith in 1991.  He admits he still sings that song in the shower.

Click at the top to hear Mike Reid talk about his musical The Ballad of Little Jo at Two River Theater.