Every so often you’re lucky enough to see a band and realize that everything is just right. The right personalities, the right arrangements, the right instruments, the right attitude… everything just comes together perfectly. “Tight” doesn’t describe it. Bands that rehearse and work hard and can stop and start on a dime are tight. Bands that know each other like the back of their hands are something special. - Review by Eric Gleason.

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Another great review: “Chris and the band give an over the top performance”

Kyle Deibler lav­ishes praise on our live CD, Live at Blues Now, in the October/November 2014 issue of Blues Bytes, with a delight­ful and detailed analy­sis of each track on the CD. If you don’t have the album yet, this review should con­vince you to get your copy now! Here’s the full story:

A for­mer Marine, Chris O’Leary, has cer­tainly paid his dues to his coun­try and to the Blues while fronting Levon Helm’s Barn Burn­ers for sev­eral years. Throw in the death of his good friend and drum­mer, Sean McCarthy, and you can tell that Chris has endured his share of tri­als and tribu­la­tions over the past cou­ple of years. In a disc ded­i­cated to Sean, Live at Blues Now, Chris and the band give an over the top per­for­mance for the good folks of Basel, Switzer­land. Sound man Dave Muscheidt did an out­stand­ing job of cap­tur­ing the band’s live per­for­mance, and hav­ing Alex Schultz as the guest gui­tarist is sim­ply the cherry on top. It’s time to give this gem another listen.

The band starts out with “Give It” and the back end with Matt Ray­mond on bass and Jay Devlin on drums set the tone for this tune. Chris’s harp is added to the mix and I hear a bit of bari­tone sax from Chris DeFrancesco, as Chris pleads his case for love with the object of his affec­tions. “You’ve been sad and only…so many times before…will you be my one and only…I’ll give you what you’re ask­ing for…give it…to me baby…give it.” Alex’s fret­work is incen­di­ary and we’re off and run­ning with it here. Throw in Andy Stahl’s tenor sax and the horns are front and cen­ter as we move onto “Trou­ble.” “I don’t know how I got here…Lord, knows where I’ve been…I’m talk­ing trouble…I’ve been liv­ing in…I’d bet­ter get it all together….for all this trou­ble I’ve been liv­ing in.” Chris doesn’t really expound on exactly what the trou­ble was but at least he’s will­ing to change his ways and begin to move forward.

Alex is back on the gui­tar and I’m wish­ing I was in Basel for this show. Next up is “Louisiana Woman,” and given that Chris says it’s a true story we’d all bet­ter be care­ful down on the Bayou. “Cre­ole Woman…all’s you had to say…don’t worry, Cher…laissez les bon temps roulez…I’ll still cross my heart…for it’s too late…knock on wood…I don’t want to tempt fate.” Chris’s mourn­ful harp tones echo the magic to be found in the air, and it sounds like Chris was a wise man to avoid the temp­ta­tions of the Louisiana women.

The crowd’s applaud­ing as the band kicks it up a notch for Chris’s next cut, “Walk the Walk.” “Can’t run…but you sure can hide…I got a plan to be your man….I’ll do every­thing I can…keep you warm when it’s cold outside…you can talk the talk…but can you walk the walk?” Chris is in love but this woman may not have the game she needs to back up her talk. Let’s hope that Chris is right with this one. We move on to “Water’s Risin’,” and this is a tune that Chris wrote with Levon Helm. “I hope you can swim…honey, our rela­tion­ship might sink.” They’re expe­ri­enc­ing some rough times together but hope­fully they’ll be ok. “Going down…water’s rising…taking on water…I hope you can swim, baby, our rela­tion­ship might sink”

Jay’s toms are set­ting the pace for our next cut, “I Wish You Would,” and I hear Chris’s bari­tone sax every now and then. Chris is singing into his harp mic and it gives his voice a unique twist for this tune. “Early in the morning…bout the break of day…I’m guess­ing my baby went away…please, baby baby…give me one more try…you know I love you…want to be your man…come back baby…I wish you would.” This girl’s gone and I’m think­ing Chris is not going to get this one back.

“Mr. Used to Be” gives a dif­fer­ent twist to the same old story. Chris is glad this one’s gone and what­ever she does, please don’t come back. “I do wish I could have known…I had to share you with the rest of the town…I do not miss you, baby…don’t you come home to me…I’m per­fectly happy…being your Mr. used to be.” Good rid­dance to bad rub­bish in this case, and Chris is more than happy to move on.

Our next cut, “Blues is a Woman,” has that late night, last call, club feel to it from way back in the day. Alex is lay­ing down some extremely mourn­ful tones on his gui­tar and the mood for this song is per­fectly clear. “Blues is a woman…and she don’t mean me no good…she never does like she ought to…low down woman…never does like she should.” I love the tones form Andy’s tenor sax in the back­ground and it’s clear that what­ever this woman did to Chris, she hurt him badly and it’s time he let her go.

Chris has the crowd singing along with him on the next tune, “King of the Jun­gle.” “King of the jungle…man, he’s the king of the jungle…he’s the bad­dest cat around.” You know he’s tough if the lions, tigers and griz­zlies all give him the right of way. This is a fun tune and a wel­come relief from the somber tone of “Blues is a Woman.” Jay’s snare is at the fore­front to give “Tchoupi­toulas” a New Orleans flare as Chris tells us about this small town in Louisiana. “This small town…ain’t no destination…people only pass­ing through…take a walk…down Tchoupitoulas…you never you know what you might find…let that muddy Mississippi…wash all your cares behind.” A quick place to pause and reflect but a def­i­nitely a des­ti­na­tion to leave behind.

Chris’s bari­tone sax is at the fore­front of the intro to our next cut, “Wait­ing for the Phone to Ring.” “Hey Rapunzel…I know your tower ain’t no fun…you know it bound to happen…I might as well be the one…I’ve proper ques­tion­able raising…but I’ve got proper table manners…in fact…instead of low­er­ing your standards….what’s say you lower your stance.” Chris is work­ing hard to charm this one but I’m not sure Rapun­zel is going to fall prey to his charms. But if she does, oh Lord,look out!

The saxes pro­vide the per­fect foil to Chris’s harp as the band heads into the final cut on our disc, “His­tory.” “Oh when I seen your apple…you know I made your orchard my home.” Chris has an answer for all of the hero­ines from the past and he’s more than happy to include them in his new ver­sion of “his­tory.” Alex just kills his fret­work on this last tune and there’s no doubt the good folk of Basel, Switzer­land wit­nessed an amaz­ing show at Blues Now.

This is Chris O’Leary’s third disc out on the Fidel­lis Records/Vizztone Label Group and it’s a good one. Dave Gross did an amaz­ing job of mas­ter­ing the live record­ing and the Chris O’Leary Band def­i­nitely tore the roof off of Blues Now that fate­ful night in March.

Chris is based in the Hud­son River Val­ley and the lessons he learned at the hands of the mas­ter, Levon Helm, are read­ily appar­ent. Alex Schultz’s fret­work is amaz­ing and I’ve enjoyed this disc tremen­dously. You can learn more about Chris O’Leary and his band on their web­site, www.thechrisolearyband.com, and grab a copy of this live disc for your­self. After that, pour your­self a cold one and turn it up loud!

[http://www.bluenight.com/BluesBytes/wn1114.html]

Recording our 4th CD

We’re head­ing back into the stu­dio soon to record our 4th CD. Want a sneak peek of some of the new songs that will be on it? Come out to one of our upcom­ing gigs! Visit our cal­en­dar to find out where we’re play­ing: http://thechrisolearyband.com/calendar.

Chris O'Leary

This red hot combo has unleashed a sizzling live album: Live at Blues Now!

Blues Bis­cuits’ Jim Kanavy gives our new live CD, Live at Blues Now!, high marks in his review of the album, not­ing that “this is rock & roll blues at its best.” Here’s the full review:

“Chris O’Leary is the for­mer front man of Levon Helm’s Barn­burn­ers. The Chris O’Leary band was formed in 2007 around a tight group of road war­riors. Chris’ years spent with the Barn­burn­ers, back­ing up an eclec­tic mix of musi­cians at Levon Helm’s New Orleans club, and tour­ing the coun­try after­ward, turned him into a musi­cal medium. He chan­nels a mul­ti­tude of blues & soul styles author­i­ta­tively. It’s hard to believe he grew up closer to Albany, New York than New Albany, Mis­sis­sippi. The blues pours out of his fuzz-drenched, raspy harp and his band is right there with him at every twist and turn. After two suc­cess­ful and acclaimed stu­dio albums, this red hot combo has unleashed a siz­zling live album.

Live At Blues Now! has tunes from both stu­dio albums and a groov­ing, bounc­ing ver­sion of Billy Boy Arnold’s “Wish You Would.” Chris sings some of it through the harp mic and his vocals take on a Howlin’ Wolf snarl. I was really excited to have a live ver­sion of “Tchoupi­toulas” (that’s “Chop-ih-too-liss” to you and me). If “Tchoupi­toulas” doesn’t get you mov­ing you may be dead. Have some­one take your pulse imme­di­ately. Admin­is­ter mouth to mouth as desired. It should have you singing and danc­ing like you’re down at Tipitina’s with the second-line hot on your heels. The whole album, from the opener “Give It” to the closer “His­tory” has incred­i­ble drum­ming. The beats are almost tribal, churn­ing and chop­ping, like waves of the sea surg­ing and reced­ing, thrust­ing the band for­ward, reel­ing rock­ing in rhyth­mic ecstasy.

“On “Trou­ble,” spe­cial guest gui­tarist Alex Schultz rides the rhyth­mic waves like a man who’s con­quered the Pipeline. Chris O’Leary’s harp cuts through like a thrust­ing oar and keeps the band on course. The shim­mer­ing gui­tars of “Louisiana Woman” and lone­some harp con­jure a hoodoo mist across the bayou and “Water’s Risin’” swings, rocks and reels. This is rock & roll blues at its best, com­bin­ing gospel vocals, Chuck Berry rhythms, and duel­ing gui­tars into a spicy gumbo of Amer­i­can music which pretty much encap­su­lates the Chris O’Leary Band. This band is the real deal. Bring the band into your liv­ing room, car, or bayou back porch with Live At Blues Now!”

[http://www.bluesbiscuits.com/2014/08/fresh-biscuits-friday-fast-five-cd-reviews-august-15–2014/]

Get the New CD: Live at Blues Now!

It’s here! Get our 3rd CD “Live at Blues Now!”, recorded in Basel Switzer­land ear­lier this year. It’s avail­able at all your favorite online music stores, iTunes, Google Play, Amazon.com, and more.

Third CD Release: Live at Blues Now!

Tomor­row we are releas­ing our 3rd CD on the Viz­ztone label.. Live at Blues Now! We recorded this ear­lier in the year in Basel Switzer­land with very spe­cial guest Alex Schultz. The room was beau­ti­ful, the crowd was great, and we had a blast!

Live at Blues Now!