Live at Blues Now!

Back in 1938, when Georgia White sang “The Blues Ain't Nothin' But … (a low-down heart disease),” few could have anticipated subsequent equally uptempo yet gloomy themes such as “Trouble” by vocalist/harmonicist Chris O'Leary. Live at Blues Now! was recorded last March at a Switzerland club by O'Leary and his band—Chris Vitarello, guitar; Andy Stahl, tenor sax; Chris DiFrancesco, baritone sax; Matt Raymond, bass; and Jay Devlin, drums, with guitarist Alex Schultz guesting. On “Trouble,” O'Leary sings, “I've only got myself to blame for all the trouble I've been gettin' in … I tried to do what's right and it always comes out wrong.” O'Leary, who wrote all but one of the songs, delivers them with considerable flair and tosses off some terrific harmonica playing, too. The saxes are mainly there to pump up the proceedings and provide some welcome riffing from time to time. DiFrancesco's solo on the New Orleans-themed “Tchoupitoulas” is just one highlight of that song, which is also enhanced by O'Leary's unaccompanied solo and Jay Devlin's spot-on drumming. Devlin's playing is a joy throughout, especially on Billy Boy Arnold's classic “I Wish You Would,” his plea to an unfaithful lover to return (as a bonus they quote War's “Low Rider”). This is a hot band and O'Leary sings and plays with authority. Highly recommended!