Richard Lud­mer­er, a con­tribut­ing edi­tor at BluesWax, the online week­ly for the Blues Revue Mag­a­zine, says that the band’s sec­ond CD, “Wait­ing For The Phone To Ring,” is as excit­ing as their award-win­ning debut. In his words:

‘Chris O’Leary spent his ear­ly career as a vocal­ist with Lev­on Helm and The Barn­burn­ers. The Chris O’Leary Band’s first CD, Mr. Used To Be, was nom­i­nat­ed for a Blues Music Award and was also a Blues Blast Awards win­ner for “Best New Artist Debut CD.” This fol­low up: Wait­ing For The Phone To Ring is equal­ly excit­ing.

‘O’Leary, vocals and har­mon­i­ca, has put togeth­er a tal­ent­ed band, includ­ing gui­tarist Chris Vitarel­lo; Jere­my Baum on piano; the horn sec­tion of Andy Stahl, tenor sax and Chris DiFrancesco, bari­tone sax; and the rhythm sec­tion of Sean McCarthy, drums and Frank Ingrao on bass. Willa McCarthy is the back­ground vocal­ist.

‘On the open­ing track, “Give It,” pro­duc­er Dave Gross pro­vides addi­tion­al per­cus­sion and helps to aug­ment the infec­tious beat. “With­out You” fea­tures a nice harp solo by O’Leary. Vitarello’s taste­ful gui­tar opens “Louisiana Woman.” “Pic­tures of You” fea­tures Baum’s piano.

‘O’ Leary is a soul­ful vocal­ist who also wrote all thir­teen of the album’s songs, and there isn’t a weak one here. Oth­er high­lights include “Hole in My Head” and the title track, “Wait­ing for the Phone to Ring”, with the lyric “If I’m too low for your stan­dards, what say you low­er your stan­dards.” “Ques­tions” and “His­to­ry” are two bits of New Orleans sec­ond line with addi­tion­al horns added mak­ing the over­all sound sim­i­lar to that of Room­ful of Blues. Dave Gross has quick­ly built a rep­u­ta­tion as a “first call” pro­duc­er and he once again proves him­self here.

‘This is a thor­ough­ly enjoy­able album. I find it dif­fi­cult to imag­ine how good O’Leary might become as this is only his sec­ond record­ing. O’Leary’s future is bright; he is one worth watch­ing.’

BluesWax Rat­ing: 8

Reprint­ed from–21-12/#

Blues Now Poster of the Chris O'Leary BandThank you Blues Now for your amaz­ing hos­pi­tal­i­ty. We were dined, we were wined, we were giv­en a tour by an incom­pa­ra­ble tour guide through the beau­ti­ful city of Basel and we even heard the Swiss audi­ence holler between songs for the band. Basel, you were a blast!

Here’s hop­ing that we’ve got all the set­tings in place, so that our posts to the band’s web­site blog will appear “auto-mag­i­cal­ly” on the band’s Face­book page. This is the inau­gur­al test post.

This report from the road comes from Gary Schwartz, sub­sti­tute drum­mer for the band:

Just back on the road toward Syra­cuse, after a lunch stop at Tan­nersville Din­er. Truck stop look­ing, unas­sum­ing road­side Din­er. Food was sur­pris­ing­ly good, done right.

This is my first road trip with the Chris O’Leary Band (and com­pa­ny) where, due to the dis­tance of trav­el, we all ride togeth­er in Andy Stahl’s 11 seater van. As we share lunch, I some­how find great com­fort in the sto­ries that are shared, the men­tion of mutu­al friends, some sad­ly no longer with us.
This group of musi­cians and friends are those that I have “come up” with in The Blues, for the last 21 years of my life.

The most recent of these musi­cian­ly friend­ships has lived for 12 years.
I laughed to Chris V. (aka “John­ny Jazz”) as I ref­er­enced one of my clas­sic auto­mo­bile mishaps, “I can’t lie to you guys about ANYTHING, you were there!”

Any­way, the point is, these peo­ple, these moments, this mis­sion of musi­cal migra­tion, have me feel­ing peace­ful yet ener­gized, at my best, and more than a lit­tle bit intro­spec­tive.