The Chris O'Leary Band Florida 2017 Tour ScheduleWe’re tak­ing the show on the road, going on a two-week tour of Flori­da start­ing Jan­u­ary 14 and going through Jan­u­ary 28. We’ll be play­ing in some of Florida’s best blues clubs from New Smyr­na Beach to Key Largo on the Atlantic coast and Engle­wood to Mar­co Island on the Gulf coast. On the way down to Flori­da, we’ll be stop­ping in clubs in Wash­ing­ton DC, Bal­ti­more, and Rich­mond. We’ll be play­ing all your favorites from our first four CDs plus some new tunes on our upcom­ing fifth CD.

Please check the cal­en­dar and come on out and see us if we’re in a town near you. It’s gonna be a whole mess of fun!

We are delight­ed to be return­ing to one of our favorite music venues in the Hud­son Val­ley this New Year’s Eve, The Towne Crier Cafe in Bea­con. We’ll be joined by Sari Schorr and her band deliv­er­ing their high ener­gy blues-rock sound. The chefs in the kitchen are plan­ning a mem­o­rable New Year’s Eve feast buf­fet, includ­ing a vari­ety of appe­tiz­ers and entrees, capped off by dessert — sump­tu­ous choco­late truf­fles, petit fours and fresh fruit. Also includ­ed for din­ner guests: a com­pli­men­ta­ry bot­tle of cham­pagne per cou­ple. Get your tick­ets now!

The COB-MaggieStahlPhoto

ChrisO'LearyPosterWe’re excit­ed to be play­ing this new venue for the first time, and we’ll be singing tunes from our upcom­ing CD and oth­er new songs, plus plen­ty of your old favorites. This will be our only Hud­son Val­ley appear­ance in July, as we’ll just be back from our Euro­pean Tour and get­ting ready to head out on our west­ern US tour at the end of the month. Come on out and join us! This is a small venue and may sell out, so get your tick­ets now!

Anoth­er stel­lar review of our new CD, Gonna Die Tryin’, appears in the lat­est issue of Big City Blues Mag­a­zine. Here’s the com­plete review:

2015 was a year that saw a num­ber of impres­sive har­mon­i­ca-led record­ings. For this writer’s mon­ey, Chris O’Leary stood at the head of the class. With a fat tome that some­times reminds of William Clarke, O’Leary is an excep­tion­al­ly impres­sive song­writer and vocal­ist, as well. He’s as steeped in real life as he is in poet­ic paint­ing. On the open­er, Can’t Help Your­self (“If you want to do it/ ahead and just say screw it.”) Chris Vitarello’s gui­tar is flu­id and sting­ing. O’Leary blows crys­tal clear harp. 19cents a day is a glimpse into the real­i­ty of war (“A pat on the back/HR will show you the door/when they fin­ish screwin’ dad they’ll send junior off to war/3 years in the guard he’s on tour num­ber 2 when it’s some­one else’s son it’s an easy thing to do/See we appre­ci­ate your ser­vice sir, but sir you’ve got to go … I’m sure they can help you down at the VA/where they fly Old Glo­ry proudly/for 19 cents a day”). Bruce Katz burns up the B3 on this. Hook Line and Sinker has a horn vamp (Andy Stahl, tenor sax and Chris DiFrancesco, bari­tone sax) that reminds of the Otis Redding/Carla Thomas tune Tramp. The gui­tar work is straight out of Mus­cle Shoals. O’Leary’s vocals are as strong as most any­one out there. Part Kim Wil­son, part Tad Robin­son. The title cut (“There’s gonna be some killin’ … /it’s a razor thin line between right­eous­ness and dyin’/ make your mind up quick or you’re gonna die tryin’/things ain’t men­tioned in polite conversation/one nation under god ain’t a lit­er­al trans­la­tion…”) is bril­liant.

Let­ters From Home is a slow blues writ­ten from a marine’s per­spec­tive. (“I’m ter­ri­fied and lonesome/about a thou­sand miles away from home/desert wind chills me to the bone/Mail call’s about the only thing keeps a man sane/in this god for­sak­en com­bat zone….I need your let­ters from home.” Again, Vitarello’s gui­tar work is impres­sive. The Dev­il Drove to Town in a V8 Ford is a work­out for every­one on board. O’Leary’s writ­ing, here as else­where on the disc, is as impres­sive as the best of Spring­steen or any oth­er acknowl­edged mas­ter. Emo­tive, cin­e­mat­ic. He sings, “Jesus said you got noth­ing for me/So be gone and tempt me no more/The Dev­il jumped into his coupe/and start­ed up that V8 Ford.” The Machine show­cas­es his excel­lent harp work while bemoan­ing the drudgery of get­ting by. Walk­ing Con­tra­dic­tion (“throw me to the wolves and just let it all go.”) is hard core Chica­go. Har­vest Time, with its piano, drum, bass, and horns is the sto­ry of a man steal­ing elec­tric­i­ty from his neigh­bors (“I got a two year plan to get me off the grid.”) and doing “some ille­gal agri­cul­ture when the sun goes down.” The addi­tion of back­ing vocal­ist Lib­by Cabel­lo gives it a cross between church and fes­ti­val. One More Sat­ur­day Night speaks to the fall­out from tour­ing (“I gave you all I had and you still walked away … the bad was pret­ty awful but the good was pret­ty great”) and spot­lights O’Leary’s pow­er­ful harp work. Every­thing works. Strong vocals, a com­mand of the lan­guage and mus­cu­lar harp work. Clear­ly one of the best releas­es of 2015. —Mark E. Gal­lo

Our lat­est album gar­ners this acco­lade and more from review­er Mar­ty Gun­ther, in the lat­est issue of Blues Blast Mag­a­zine. Here’s a reprint of the full review:

Vet­er­an New York singer/harmonica player/guitarist Chris O’Leary is a tal­ent­ed, down-to-earth blues­man who speaks from his heart, and that’s clear as a bell for Gonna Die Tryin’, his lat­est imprint on the Amer­i­can Show­place label.

A true Amer­i­can hero who spent sev­en years in the U.S. Marines, O’Leary’s approach deals dif­fer­ent­ly from many harp play­ers on the scene today. After his dis­charge, he spent six years as front man for Lev­on Helm’s band, The Barn­burn­ers, record­ed with Hubert Sum­lin and Bill Per­ry. He deliv­ers straight-ahead blues with a mod­ern feel, aid­ed by horns, which take his sound to anoth­er lev­el while giv­ing him space to deliv­er his ample vocal skills.

This is Chris’ fourth release since suc­cess­ful­ly mak­ing his debut as a solo record­ing artist in 2010 with Mr. Used To Be. That album earned the 2011 Blues Blast Music Award for best New Artist Debut Release. O’Leary’s most recent work, Live At Blues Now!, was a 2015 BBMA nom­i­nee for Live Album Of The Year. He’s backed here by his reg­u­lar align­ment of Chris Vitarel­lo (gui­tar), Andy Stahl and Chris DiFrancesco (tenor and bari­tone sax­es), Matt Ray­mond (bass) and Jay Devlin (drums). They’re aug­ment­ed by Bruce Katz on keys, Vin­nie Nobile on trom­bone and Willa Pan­vi­ni McCarthy and Lib­by Cabel­lo on back­ing vocals.

All of the mate­r­i­al here is orig­i­nal, and O’Leary writes about what he knows, some of it humor­ous, some reek­ing with images of the bat­tle­ground, as he paints a clear pic­ture of life in 21st Cen­tu­ry Amer­i­ca. Dur­ing the Viet­nam era, it wasn’t unusu­al for a blues artist to record songs about the hor­rors of war. Today, how­ev­er, O’Leary is in the minor­i­ty as he describes cur­rent war­zones and their effect on valiant folks who serve.

A catchy riff from Vitarel­lo, who’s stel­lar through­out, intro­duces “Can’t Help Your­self,” the first cut, the sto­ry of Bay­onne Bob­by, a tat­tooed ne’er-do-well who’s vowed to set­tle down with a good woman and make his moth­er proud. Despite his efforts, how­ev­er, he sim­ply can’t get out of his own way. O’Leary sug­gests it’s time to stop try­ing to be some­one else, fin­ish­ing the num­ber with an elec­tri­fy­ing harp solo that stops just short of dis­tor­tion.

“19₵ A Day” fol­lows with a lyri­cal­ly rapid-fire take on one of the biggest com­plaints work­ers deal with today: com­pa­nies out­sourc­ing labor to places where folks will toil for the mea­ger wages of the song’s title. The mil­i­tary theme makes its first appear­ance with ref­er­ences about the gov­ern­ment turn­ing its back on dis­en­fran­chised vet­er­ans who find them­selves being shut­tled from one agency to anoth­er, unable to secure jobs, unless elec­tion time is near and politi­cians actu­al­ly do some­thing to help in order to sway votes.

“Hook, Line And Sinker,” a love song deliv­ered with a Mem­phis feel backed by the horn sec­tion, fol­lows before the theme dark­ens once more. “Gonna Die Try­ing” pro­vides a funky, hor­rif­ic view of bat­tle using Sam­son vs. the Philistines for imagery before it evolves into visions of men with guns who have Satan in their ears spurring them on for more blood­shed. He’s got “the rules of engage­ment and the worst of inten­tions,” O’Leary says, and “there’s a razor-thin line between right­eous­ness and dyin’.” The theme con­tin­ues with “Let­ters From Home,” a sev­en-minute slow blues opus that details the pow­er of receiv­ing mail and phones from loved ones when at the front line.

“The Dev­il Drove To Town In A V8 Ford” and “The Machine” are both clever, per­co­lat­ing blues. The first depicts the bat­tle between good and evil with rich visu­al metaphors, the sec­ond being trapped in the pit­falls of every­day work­ing life. O’Leary puts his harp skills on dis­play for the care­ful­ly con­trolled “Walk­ing Con­tra­dic­tion,” which describes a woman who nev­er ceas­es to amaze, before “Har­vest Time,” a love song with a funky South­ern feel and lush horn arrange­ments. The lop­ing “One More Sat­ur­day Night” fol­lows before “Tell It To Me Straight” brings the disc to a close.

From the descrip­tion of the songs above, you’d think that O’Leary’s basi­cal­ly a hard-edged Marine, but don’t be fooled. He’s real­ly a softy at heart. He ded­i­cat­ed the album to his new­born son Jack­son, and the pair are depict­ed in a tru­ly heart­warm­ing image in the pack­ag­ing.

Gonna Die Tryin’ is full of first-rate musi­cian­ship through­out, and O’Leary’s band is def­i­nite­ly a group on the rise. But it’s the mate­r­i­al that tru­ly shines. Avail­able from Ama­zon, iTunes or direct­ly from the label’s web­site. I’m def­i­nite­ly going to set this album aside for the end of the year and future award con­sid­er­a­tion.