Pretend Collective (Record Release) & Andrew Lipke
Johnny Brenda's Presents

Pretend Collective (Record Release) & Andrew Lipke

Pretend Collective
Andrew Lipke
Erik Kramer
Ages 21+
Pretend Collective (Record Release) & Andrew Lipke with Erik Kramer & Friends at Johnny Brenda's in Philadelphia
  • 7PM - Doors
  • 8PM - Erik Kramer & Friends
  • 9PM - Andrew Lipke
  • 10PM - Pretend Collective


Pretend Collective's music is worthy of a long walk with a good pair of headphones. It goes to work on the deep, quiet places within you – to listen along is to feel your place in an ever-changing landscape.

“I had come to rely on my favorite music as a form of transportation,” says Pretend Collective vocalist and songwriter Mike Reilly. “It took a long time to realize that the way to make the listener feel like a traveler in space is to create musical space for the listener to travel through.”

Before Pretend Collective, Reilly made a name for himself as drummer and band member with Hoots & Hellmouth, Ha Ha Tonka, The Spring Standards, and a long list of artists based out of Philadelphia and New York. A veteran of the national club and festival circuit, he became known in growing circles as a songwriters’ drummer, exploring hybrid setups and employing a wide variety of percussion in his performances, delivering unique character to each project. His resume includes extensive work in the theatre world: offstage in pit-orchestras, on-stage in new and old works alike, and even originating the role of the villain, Jessup McElroy, in Red Roses, Green Gold, the 2017 Off-Broadway jukebox musical featuring the music of Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter. In the fleeting off-hours between international touring, making records, and theatrical work, Reilly holed up in his home studio and crafted exhaustive demos of the songs that would comprise Pretend Collective’s first full-length album, slated for release on September 13, 2019 through The Giving Groove.

There is a pervasive symmetry at work here – motifs are established and revisited. Titles reprise themselves as lyrics re-colored. Side B repeatedly echoes Side A as it arcs thematically toward conceptual culmination. Reilly stops short of calling his debut a concept record: “We’ve assembled something here which nods in that direction, but it’s a little scrappier than all that. If there’s a concept at work, it’s the cultivation of vibe and flow.”

Pretend Collective is a fluid entity. “It depends on who’s in the room. It’s sort of a post–band position to take, but we like making new friends,” says Reilly of the evolving lineup. The collective first presented itself to the world during a yearlong residency at Greenwich Village’s famed venue The Bitter End, where he organized and ran a bi-weekly, late-night, invited jam session. Here, Reilly’s original material was unveiled and shaped by some of New York’s best young players.

The recorded ensemble consists primarily of working Philadelphia and New York musicians, many of whom tour globally, play on Broadway, and collaborate with some of the biggest names in music. The album features the soulful, searing electric guitar work of Aurélien Budynek (Marky Ramone, Cindy Blackman Santana); the virtuosic flavor and atmospheric precision of Jaron Olevsky and David Streim (Amos Lee) on Hammond B3, Fender Rhodes and piano; melodious upright and electric bass by Jonathan Davenport (Dirty Projectors, Buried Beds); Bryan Percivall’s (Britney Spears) vintage sensibilities on bass guitar.

One source of particular excitement is the soaring lead guitar work by Tom Deis (Uni Ika Ai, Via Audio) on the album’s first single, “Hello, Lonely Road.” “The tune is a sort of love letter to the cyclical process of romantic entanglement and estrangement, which becomes a stand-in for the peaks and valleys that comprise life,” Reilly says of the record’s distinctive centerpiece. “A lot of the feedback is that it’s Beatles-y, but I know what that’s really about; people like to say that about a song that goes a few interesting places harmonically. That’s what I’m in it for: a harmonic journey.” Individual accomplishments aside, Reilly proudly holds each of his collaborators in the highest musical esteem:

“If you want people to love what’s coming through the speakers, you’ve got to love what you’re laying down, what you’ve discovered together. I love these players and I love what they have brought to this music. Enthusiasm for this record was really shared across the board. Imagine what we can do together. That’s what we mean by Pretend Collective.”

“Making a record like this is not for the faint of heart,” says co-producer and engineer Matt Teacher (Bon Jovi, Boyz II Men, mewithoutYou). “It took over two years to find all the right musicians, to test ideas out, to fearlessly throw ideas away and start again. At the beginning of this project I knew we were onto something good, but I could only see the individual puzzle pieces being put into place as Mike presented them. At times I wasn’t sure how they all would fit together, but by placing complete faith in his vision and holding on for the ride, the grand landscape was slowly revealed and I sat back in awe as the individual pieces—each individual’s contribution—came together to create something wonderful, strange, and captivating.”

The album reaches its emotional peak with “These Harder Days,” a deeply personal sentiment penned by Reilly in the difficult period following the devastating loss of a childhood friend to suicide. It’s the only track on the record to feature additional voices—nearly thirty of them—hometown friends and families spanning three generations who gathered one evening in 2018 for a very special recording session to commemorate a son, brother, friend, and immense musical talent. The record winds down as the lyric concludes: “We find each other singing in the clear.”

In addition to the digital release the Pretend Collective debut will be available on limited-edition (500 units), gold-foil numbered vinyl from The Giving Groove, with half of all proceeds benefiting Nuçi’s Space, a charity who envisions ending the epidemic of suicide and inspiring a culture free of the stigma attached to brain illnesses and its sufferers by supporting a community-wide effort that focuses on education, prevention and access to appropriate treatment.


Andrew Lipke is a Philadelphia-based, South African born composer and multi-instrumentalist. He is driven, above all, by his passion to create, blend, isolate, fuse and explore disparate musical genres. This passion has led him through a maze of musical experiences....

...From wielding an electric guitar with national touring band Get The Led Out in front of thousands at Colorado's famed Red Rocks Amphitheater, to conducting the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia at the historic Philadelphia Metropolitan Opera House...

...From being featured as arranger, and/or vocalist with such prominent American orchestras as Nashville, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, San Diego, Indianapolis, Colorado, Columbus, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Oregon Symphony Orchestras, to sitting behind the control desk in his Philadelphia recording studio The Record Lounge as engineer and producer for dozens of independent artist's releases...

...From premiering a concert length commission for Curtis Institute of Music's then string quartet in residence The Aizuri collaborating with members of The Philadelphia Orchestra in creating cross-genre, educational programs for underserved children in his community, and teaching private composition lessons at the prestigious Hartt School at The University of Hartford in CT...

Lipke's innate ability to find the common thread that transcends musical style and genre has led to a wealth of experience, and is no more evident than with the music contained in his forthcoming EP entitled “Overture”, which those who have heard consider it to be the apogee of Lipke’s musical journey to date.

A hard-to-pin-down, and even harder to describe blend of dozens of musical styles, Lipke’s music has been described as "Liberated pop - ambitious long-form songs with harmonic freedom and emotional range unstymied by strict radio formats" (David Patrick Stearns, Philadelphia Inquirer), and he has been praised for his "...smartly constructed lyrics and gorgeously orchestrated melodies" (AD Amorosi, City Paper)

Lipke has produced dozens of records for local and regional artists and has released six solo recordings. Notably, he formed the Azrael String Quartet to perform music he wrote and produced for his 2011 genre-crossing album "The Plague,” which Lipke later reimagined as a full-length oration upon commission by Choral Arts Philadelphia.

Lipke’s credits also include a punk rock score for the internationally released EPIX film "Back Issues: The Hustler Magazine Story,” as well as completing orchestral arrangements for Blue Note Record’s Amos Lee and his sold-out performance with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra at Colorado’s legendary Red Rocks amphitheater. This concert would later be released on ATO records as “Amos Lee live from Red Rocks with The Colorado Symphony.”

Lipke’s new release, an EP entitled “Overture,” provides a glimpse of his wide-ranging musical eclectic journey for everyone. He is also currently finishing “Kamala: The Child People,” the second installment to his album cycle based on Herman Hesse’s groundbreaking novel “Siddhartha”, the first installment of which – entitled, simply, “Siddhartha” – was released in 2015.


Erik performs his original music under the moniker of ‘Erik Kramer & Friends’. The band features Melina Harris, Sean Lally, and a network of premier musicians to put together an all star band for each show. The music is a fusion of psychedelic, folk, funk, world music, rock n' roll, and soul led as if it were a jazz combo. Each performance is a unique experience full of horns, electronic samples, and skilled musicianship navigating through intricate arrangements, intriguing lyrics, tight vocal harmonies, and communicative improvisation.

Erik is also a member of several bands, and performs as a session player and sideman with artists including Uprooted (formerly known as Rusted Root), Darlingtyn, Luke & the Ego, Taylor Kelly, Jacopo and the Late Saints, and Townstreet Criers. Former bands include Morning Martyrs, Endangered Speeches, The Blind Woods, Sun Cut Flat, Tubey Frank, and Gracie Curran and the High Falutin’ Band.

Venue Information:
Johnny Brenda's
1201 N. Frankford Ave
Philadelphia, PA, 19125