“A rather simple and innocuous little comment, isn’t it?
“Could be something as innocent as a request directed at a disc jockey or a plea from an impatient club owner to a beleaguered band.
“But no, this time those three words are a nugget of advice from one of the most legendary and well-respected musicians in the annals of modern music – Mr. Levon Helm.
““That’s one of the greatest pieces of advice he gave me. Play the song, don’t use the song for whatever it is you’re trying to do … like getting up there and showing off or showing everybody what you know. I remember him telling a guitar player, ‘There’s a lot of notes, did you really have to play all of them?’” said singer, song-writer, harpist and bandleader Chris O’Leary. “He would say, ‘Play the song. Go up there and if you’re soloing, if you’re singing or if you’re playing rhythm, forward the song. Whatever the song may be, support it. That’s a lesson that has carried me – among a zillion others that he taught me.””
“Chris O’Leary has a vocal style that could make a believer out of a devout atheist and a harmonica style that will burn a hole straight through to the deepest part of your heart. There’s just something in his delivery that has the listener hanging on every note and every word. Seven years as a Marine and six years as a member of Levon Helm’s Barnburners are enough to convince the hardened skeptic that this cat has paid his dues. If that’s not enough, one listen to this disc will drive the point home. A band as solid as the Rock of Gibraltar backing his formidable skills is enough to get the point across that Chris O’Leary is 100% the real deal. Backing him on this album are Chris Vitarello on guitar, Andy Stahl and Chris Difrancesco on saxophones, Matt Raymond on bass and Jay Devlin on drums. Add the piano & organ work of Bruce Katz, Vinnie Nobile on trombone, and Willa Panvini McCarthy & Libby Cabello on background vocals…then add John Mooney as a special guest on guitar, and this tasty treat has the cherry on top. The fact that O’Leary wrote all the music and lyrics for the album makes him all the more impressive. As impressive a wordsmith as he is a harmonica player and vocalist, this cat is a threat on so many fronts that it’s not funny. This is one of the most impressive, solid blues albums I have heard in quite some time. There are no gimmicks, no high-tech pyrotechnics and absolutely no B.S. to be found, just a band pouring heart and soul into a performance. This one is powerful and passionate, strong as an old locomotive with a full head of steam and no desire to slow down. This one gets my highest recommendation. It belongs in the library of every blues lover…without question. — Bill Wilson”
Chris O’Leary and Charissa Shields are delighted to announce the birth of their son Jackson Ronald Thomas O’Leary, on Monday, July 27th at 3:45 pm. Jackson weighed in at 8 lbs 4oz and already has his father wrapped around his little finger: “The second my baby boy opened his big blue eyes I was done, toast, completely in love!” Join us in congratulating the proud parents!
We are very proud to announce that our latest release Live at Blues Now! is nominated for a 2015 Blues Blast Award, for best live blues recording! Voting begins on July 15th and is open to the public. Visit Blues Blast Magazine to read all about it. Thank you for your support!