Reviews

“On their sec­ond release [Wait­ing for the Phone to Ring], Mr. O’Leary and the band are a blues force to be reck­oned with. The songs, all orig­i­nals, show a range of influ­ences from Los Ange­les to New Orleans to New Jer­sey street cor­ners. Com­ple­ment­ing that range of songs is a band that treats each one with respect, always high­light­ing the music and not their own con­sid­er­able tal­ents.“
– Nick Delay, WVKR

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“Chris O’Leary’s got it, man, he’s got it. From rol­lickin’ rock (Give It) to week­end stomp (With­out You) to slinkin’ down-lo back-alley swank (Louisiana Woman) to bar­rel­house bal­ladry (Pic­tures of You) and well beyond…and, lord, that’s only the first four of thir­teen cuts [on his sec­ond CD, Wait­ing for the Phone to Ring,] deliv­ered with piz­zazz, panache, plenty of pig’s feet n’ gumbo, and more than a lit­tle pugilis­tic punch-up all through the blues’ back yard. His ace band knows how to cen­ter O’Leary’s vocals while parad­ing all around him, hot and hip but per­fectly in con­trol, ac-cen-tu-atin’ the pos­i­tive, the neg­a­tive, the ques­tion­able, and even the down­right nasty.“
– Mark S. Tucker, the Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange

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“Levon Helm’s singing har­mon­ica man leads his crew through a sopho­more set [on Wait­ing for the Phone to Ring] that is any­thing but sopho­moric. With a jun­gle blues vibe and pow­ered by non-stop energy, this crew has got the blues right in the pocket deliv­er­ing a fun, high octane set that makes the only color in blues blue. If you aren’t inter­ested in hear­ing about pick­ing cot­ton and fight­ing boll wee­vils, this is the stuff for you. Hot stuff.“
– Chris Spec­tor, edi­tor and pub­lisher, Mid­west Record

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“Front man Chris O’Leary car­ries the group .….with a huge shout and force of nature har­mon­ica sound… he gen­er­ates author­ity.“
Griel Mar­cus

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“O’Leary, for­merly with Levon Helm’s Barn­burn­ers, is a more than capa­ble singer and Chicago-style har­mon­ica styl­ist; the proof comes in the shuf­fles and jump num­bers he han­dles with suave assur­ance on his debut record­ing. It’s really the slow tempo of Blues is a Woman that draws out his best singing, rem­i­nis­cent of Jimmy With­er­spoon. His Hud­son Valley-based cohorts stir up the all-original mate­r­ial with­out fal­ter­ing. Young gui­tarist Chris Vitarello mer­its notice for his tech­ni­cal pow­ers and imag­i­na­tion, his reach extend­ing to rock­a­billy and swing­ing jazz.“
Frank-John Hadley, Down­beat Magazine

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“O’Leary and com­pany have a laid-back sound, but their solid groove and tight ensem­ble play­ing and O’Leary’s superla­tive song­writ­ing make them a pow­er­ful unit.“
J. Poet, Rovi

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“This cat spent a long time as Levon Helm’s side kick and you can tell he out­grew the out­fit. A first class singer/harp player, [Mr. Used to Be] is more in the tra­di­tion of But­ter­field but with­out the Chicago edge … A win­ner through­out.“
Chris Spec­tor, edi­tor and pub­lisher, Mid­west Record

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“O’Leary, who has the crewcut-and-muscles appeal of the for­mer Marine he is, is a force­ful harp player, a pow­er­ful singer and a nat­ural front­man.“
Kay Roy­bal, Blues Revue Magazine

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“The Chris O’Leary Band offers a vir­tual ency­clo­pe­dia of road­house blues styles, from Boo­gie Woo­gie to South­side Chicago elec­tric rockin’ to Louisiana Mardi Gras stom­pers, on the enter­tain­ing Mr. Used to Be (Viz­ztone).“
Jonathan Tak­iff, Philadel­phia Daily News

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“Chris sings in a strong, clear voice and plays a mean harp … It is always good to see new acts writ­ing their own mate­r­ial and not resort­ing to cov­ers of the usual sus­pects. The Chris O’Leary Band has pro­duced a var­ied CD which deserves to get them more atten­tion. A band to watch out for, in my view.“
John Mitchell, Blues Blast Magazine

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Mr. Used to Be, is a rollicking-good-time of a debut from Chris O’Leary, a big-voiced singer who coaxes a huge tone from his harp, and has all the skills of a natural-born front­man.“
Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society

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“O’Leary’s han­dling of his harp is fat, phat, and where it’s at, thick as a Geor­gia after­noon buzzing towards a swel­ter­ing hori­zon promis­ing gin joint delights and non-stop git-down. And that, cats ‘n kit­ties, is pre­cisely what’s deliv­ered… there’s a ton of class through­out [Mr. Used to Be], but it’s the tar­nished shine of fallen angels grown more than worldly. Wouldn’t have it any other way.“
Mark S. Tucker, the Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange

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“In form­ing his own band, [O’Leary] has assem­bled a cast of pre­mier musi­cians from New York’s Hud­son Val­ley, and the fun they have play­ing together comes through on this debut CD [Mr. Used to Be]. So does Mr. O’Leary’s tal­ent as a song­writer on clever and orig­i­nal songs that could have come from a 60’s soul cat­a­logue.“
Nick Delay, WVKR

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“The Chris O’Leary Band’s Mr. Used To Be is a musi­cal tour de force from these top-notch road war­riors. [The CD] blends and sim­mers all its ingre­di­ents into a tasty musi­cal treat. It’s a trav­el­ogue of sorts, spot­light­ing stops along the high­way where these musi­cians gained expe­ri­ence, exper­tise and insight. All the parts add up to authen­tic, good time music cre­ated with care and love of the form. The feel­ing is con­ta­gious.“
Jim Kanavy, Amer­i­can Blues News

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“Chris, while you and your fine band were play­ing I heard peo­ple say, “Who cares about the rest of the show, I just want to hear them all night!” What a strong and impres­sive set. The Blues World knows that you and your band rock, big time.”
Bob Mar­golin