Chris O’Leary review…August 26, 2014…

THE CHRIS O’ LEARY BAND

LIVE AT BLUES NOW!

VIZZTONE LABEL GROUP

GIVE IT–TROUBLE–LOUISIANA WOMAN–WALK THE WALK–WATER’S RISIN’–WISH YOU WOULD–MR. USED TO BE–BLUES IS A WOMAN–KING OF THE JUNGLE–THCOUPATOULIAS–WAITING FOR THE PHONE TO RING–HISTORY

Harpman and vocalist Chris O Leary spent six years in the Marines, and also six years as a bandleader for Levon Helm in the Woodstock, NY, area as a part of those legendary Midnight Ramble sessions.  Chris learned a lot from Helm in those days, and parlayed that work into two very well-received prior albums, “Mr. Used To Be,” and “Waiting For The Phone To Ring.”  His latest album for Vizztone is one that his fans (including us!) have been waiting for–a live set.  As such, “Live At Blues Now!” has just been released, with Chris and the band blasting thru twelve of his best crowd-pleasers, in front of an enthusiastic group of fans at this historic venue in Basel, Switzerland.

Chris O’ leary’s music is rooted in the traditions of the blues, but he’s not afraid to switch gears just a little to keep things fresh.  He is joined by Andy Stahl and Chris DiFrancesco on horns, Matt Raymond on bass, and Jason Devlin on drums.  Guitar duties are shared by Chris Vitarello and special guest Alex Schultz.

“Trouble” is a swingin’ shot of jump-blues with an extended solo and some cool call-and-response from Alex and Chris.  “Walk The Walk”  and the set-closing “History,” (which cleverly name-checks famous female lovers and the spells they cast over their menfolk!) are both stone-cold slabs of blues-funk tailor-made for the dancers!  Chris and Levon co-wrote “Water’s Risin,’ another clever look at the demise of a love affair, where, “I hope you can swim, baby, because our relationship might sink!”

Chris loves to dig deep into those swampy, voodoo-rich blues of Louisiana, and those cuts served as our favorites.  A way-cool segue’ into “Low Rider” during Billy Boy Arnold’s “Wish You Would” is a real crowd-pleaser, while Chris blows over that brooding beat in the tale of a “Louisiana Woman” with a “’65 LeSabre, the back seat reeks of sex.”  And, on a lighter note, everybody gets in a Mardi Gras mood down in “Tchoupatoulias,” where “that second-line is calling you!”

Chris O “Leary continues to hone his skills as a frontman on this most excellent live set.  Everyone gets a chance to shine, the crowd is into it, and “Live At Blues Now!” is everything a good live set oughta be!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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