Sunday, December 16, 2012

Chris O'Leary Band -- "Waiting for The Phone To Ring"

I sincerely apologize for the lateness of this review. The Chris O'Leary Band released this cd last June, and I have been playing it regularly on my radio show ever since, and in all that time I never got around to writing this review.

Do I need to tell you, dear reader, that Chris O'Leary was the singer/frontman for Levon Helm's Barnburners for 6 years? That the Chris O'Leary Band won the 2011 Blues Blast Music Award for "Best New Artist Debut CD" for their first cd, "Mr. Used To Be"? That this follow up was recorded at his Fat Rabbit Studios with Dave Gross sitting in the producer's chair? That this disc is dedicated to the memories of Jeff Sarli, Bill Perry, Hubert Sumlin and Levon Helm?

All these clues point you toward the stellar quality of the music captured here. The COB is an all-star combo, with Chris O'Leary on vocals and harmonica, Chris Vitarello on guitar & vocals, Sean McCarthy on drums, Frank Ingrao on upright and electric bass, Willa McCarthy on vocals, Andy Stahl on tenor sax, Chris DiFrancesco on bari and tenor sax on two tracks, and Jeremy Baum on piano, B-3 organ and accordian on two tracks. In addition, Dave Gross plays guitar, drums and percussion on six tracks, Michael Bram plays drums and percussion on four tracks, Scot Hornick plays upright bass on eight tracks, and Vinnie Nobile plays trombone on two tracks. This is a big band with a full sound, and lot of depth and talent. And the coolest thing about this cd is that everything here has that great ensemble flavor like the very best blues always has. Everybody plays together--no egos anywhere, just great playing by everybody on track after track.  All the songs are written by Chris O'Leary. And no matter what kind of blues you favor, these 13 tracks can hook you--the band covers the proverbial waterfront of styles--West Coast blues, Chicago blues, New Orleans gumbo.

Here's how Mark S Tucker, from The Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange describes it:
“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.“

I can't add anything to that. A very fine cd. You can buy it at Amazon and I-Tunes.

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