~ Blues Sunday June 2, 2019: The Chris O'Leary Band ~
Charlotte Blues Society meets the 1st Sunday Jan-June, Aug.-Dec.at The Rabbit Hole, 1801 Commonwealth Ave, Charlotte NC
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by Michael Ingmire
*Note: this article is edited from the original, which was published by Politichicks April 25, 2016. Read the full article here
Chris O'Leary was raised in upstate New York by a family that loved and respected all types of music. When he was 11 years old his Father turned him on to the Muddy Waters album, “Hard Again.” The harmonica playing of James Cotton had a direct impact on Chris and inspired him to pick up the harmonica for himself.
During his high school years Chris played guitar and bass in various bands. When he graduated from high school Chris enlisted in the Marines because of his father’s service example and because Chris loves America. He received Infantry training at Camp Lejeune. All in all, Chris served seven years in the Marine Corps and was part of Operation Desert Storm.
He saw direct combat action and was proud to serve in the Marines. He now despairs that veterans issues are being used as a “political football” and that this seems to happen every four years per the campaign cycle. The pandering about the needs of vets rightfully angers Chris and he does not want to see his own son join the military when he comes of age.
After leaving the military, Chris attended Marist college in Poughkeepsie, NY. He started his own band and became friends with musicians such as guitarist Pete Kanaras. Around 1996, a demo that Chris and his band recorded found it’s way to the stereo of Levon Helm. Levon started showing up at Chris‘ gigs and sat in with his band. Their renditions of classic Sonny Boy Williamson songs delighted Helm who said that Sonny Boy’s songs were “his cup of meat.” Ultimately this lead to Chris being offered a job in Levon Helm’s Barnburners.
When Levon Helm opened his club in New Orleans Chris followed him down there. The atmosphere of New Orleans broadened his musical point of view. Playing with Levon was a constant series of musical and professional lessons.
Levon’s main lesson to Chris was to always “play the song, to not use the song as a vehicle for soloing. Help tell the story of the song, no matter what.” The lessons Levon Helm gave to Chris about this country and it’s people have proved to be invaluable.
After about six years with Levon Helm’s Barnburners Chris started experiencing some problems with his own voice. Chris stopped singing and concentrated mainly on raising his family. In 2007, Chris O’Leary started his own band again with a full force wind.
I saw the Chris O’Leary Band in Charlotte, NC. on February 24th of 2016 year and was astounded by their musicianship. Besides playing very deep Blues, they also touch on material by New Orleans Legend Professor Longhair, Southern Soul, and material directly influenced by his time with Levon Helm. The band included road guitarist Pete Kanaras (Of The Nighthawks fame), drummer Ray Hangen (who played with the late Sean Costello), sterling bassist Matt Raymond, Andy Stahl on Tenor Sax &vocals and Chris Difrancesco on baritone sax & vocals. A great and a dynamic band and one well worth seeing.
In speaking with Chris I mentioned how I really appreciated some of the “vet themes” in some of his songs particularly the title track of his new album,”Gonna Die Tryin, Letters from Home (originally written during his time with Levon Helm) and 19 Cents a Day.”
Some of the lyrics from “19 Cents a Day” are written with an outlook that only a military veteran could be able to grasp. “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.”
Also powerful is the track “Letters From Home.” People forget how important letters were to an active duty service member before the advent of e-mail. Chris told me that he really enjoyed getting letters from kids during his Desert Storm service period.
I have a great deal of respect for Chris O’Leary as a musical artist and as a man. I urge all Blues/American music fans reading to check out the Chris O’Leary Band discography. You are bound to be delighted and inspired. All are available at his website thechrisolearyband.net, Amazon.com, the iTunes store, among other outlets.
About the Author:
Michael Ingmire, is a musician and writer of over 50 years experience. Michael has opened for or shared stages with artists such as Dr. Mac Arnold, Bob Margolin, Willie “Big Eye” Smith, Kenny Neal, Allen Ginsberg, Wilson Pickett, Bo Diddley, Johnny Copeland, Dr. John, Albert King and John Lee Hooker, among many. Currently, Michael sings and plays guitar with two Charlotte based acts, The Instigators and The Crossroad Prophets. As a writer, Michael has written for The Daily Caller and foxnews.com. Michael is currently a Contributor to Politichicks.com writing about Politics, Music and Social issues.
About the show:
This is a FREE General Admission Show for all valid CBS card holders.
$5 non-members General Admission.
About Chris O'Leary
"Chris is a storyteller. His songs burn holes in the heart. "
Chris O'Leary Band "7 Minutes Late"
" Chris O Leary, former Levon Helm Barnburner and US Marine is back with 12 new original fractured tales of hope and despair on his new album 7 Minutes Late . O Leary s exceptionally impressive songwriting and his impassioned singing and harp work are on full display on his latest release. Catch Chris on tour through out America and Europe with his incendiary collection of well seasoned players. "
“With ‘7 Minutes Late’ again Chris O’Leary delivers a versatile and very varied top blues/rock album. Ninety minutes he fascinates, while digging in all the musical roots that he owns. All grooves come loose and, YES!, this O’Leary continues to amaze!” — excerpt from www.rootstime.be
June 7-9, 2019
Friday. 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM.
Saturday.11:00 AM – 11:00 PM.
Sunday. 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM.
Join us at our Beer/Wine/Beverage tent!
Volunteer to help and receive a free TOC T-shirt.
Charlotte Blues Society needs your help to man our booth located near the band stage.
Always fun, always one of our biggest fundraisers.
Come out for a few hours to volunteer, and stay to enjoy the event the rest of the day!
You do not have to handle money,
"Coin" are used to purchase food, beverages and games at the event.
The link below will take you to our sign up form.
"Thank You " in advance.
See you there!
(Oh, and if you can't volunteer to help out, make sure you come to the event and get your beer/wine aWe t our tent: it will help us out in the long run!)
We will also have a tip jar at out tent to collect funds to buy food for "Loaves and Fishes". School is out, and it is a critical time for at risk kids. Many of them rely on the school lunches to provide them with their main source of nourishment.
Hunger does not take a holiday.
CBS Collects canned and non-perishable food items every month at our events.
Please bring food to every Blues Sunday performance. Our goal is one TON of food this year. We need your help to do it.
Music DOES change the world.
You could win this limited edition plaque commemorating The Double Door Inn.
Only two exndist.
This collectible has been donated to Charlotte Blues Society to raise funds to purchase a permanent brick which will be installed in front of the Blues Foundation building in Memphis.
This brick will commemorate CBS Member, Award winning Blues Artist Robin Rogers and CBS.
We are going to raffle this plaque strictly for the purchase of the brick.
We are selling 100 raffle tickets at $5 a piece. Once all tickets are sold, the winner will be drawn.
The Double Door plaque could be yours.
Remember, only 100 tickets so get yours soon.
The 8"x8" brick will read:
Winner 2011 BMA
The Blues Music Awards are presented by the The Blues Foundation a non-profit organization founded to foster blues heritage.
The awards, started in 1980, are according to Offbeat music magazine "universally recognized as the highest accolade afforded musicians and songwriters in blues music."
Robin was posthumously awarded Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year in 2011.
The award was presented to her husband, songwriting partner, and band mate Tony Rogers at the Awards Ceremony held in Memphis, Tennessee where the Blues Foundation is locate.
Robin was a huge advocate of Charlotte Blues Society and The Blues Foundation. She was also winner of the 2009 "Best Female Artist" Blues Blast Award.
Purchase your raffle ticket for this collectible today.
Chris O'Leary Band
5th CD 7 Minutes Late on the American Showplace Label.
Now on tour to support the release of the new album.
Chris’s musical background includes duties as lead singer and front man for rock and roll hall of famer and Grammy award winner Levon Helm’s band, The Barnburners.
During the 6 years that Chris and Levon played together they toured across the US and Canada lighting up stages everywhere they went. Chris has appeared on stage with: Legendary Rolling Stones sideman Bobby Keys, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Jimmy Vivino, Jeff Healy, Dan Akroyd, Albert Lee, Dave Edmunds, Dave Maxwell and the great James Cotton to name just a few. Chris has also recorded with Bill Perry and Hubert Sumlin, among others.
The Chris O’Leary Band’s debut CD “Mr. Used to Be” won the 2011 Best New Artist Debut CD Blues Blast Award and was nominated for best new artist debut at the 2011 American Blues Music Awards.
The regular members of the band include:
We're Keepin the Blues Alive~!
CBS Blues Sunday with the Chris O'Leary Band at The Rabbit Hole. FREE to members with valid ID, $5 non-members
A Taste of Charlotte, in Uptown Charlotte, NC. CBS Beer & Wine tent by the main stage
CBS Blues Sunday celebrates August with our Open BLUES Jam with THE INSTIGATORS at The Rabbit Hole. .
Blues Jam Guidelines and Courtesies
Welcome to the Charlotte Blues Society Blues Jam. You are participating in a tradition that is over 26 years in the making. The Charlotte Blues Society has consistently promoted a Blues Jam as part of its Blues Sunday. The Charlotte Blues Society’s Blues Sunday occurs on the first Sunday of each month. The Blues Jams do not happen at every Blues Sunday. Always refer to charlottebluessociety.org for details and schedules. We hope your experience will be inspiring and that your own musical abilities will be informed by these jams.
We offer the following guidelines to consider when signing on as a participating jammer:
A practical suggestion, Sign up early. On the sign-up sheet please list your instrument and/or ability that you wish to contribute to the Jam. While the Blues has a lot of variations, please be advised this is a Blues Jam. Please keep it real ladies and gentlemen.
Be respectful of any equipment that you use, backline and PA, treat it as your own or possibly better than your own. We recommend you bring your own gear, including amp. If you have a special amp, pedal or set-up that you need to use, remember guideline #1; Come early
Keep track of your place on the sign-up sheet. It is not up to the Jam Master to track you down when your time to shine arrives.
Please be advised that you need to be tuned and ready BEFORE you get on stage. Additionally, if you are a guitarist that tunes down a half step, please note the House band will be tuned to standard 440. Two choices remain, either tune to 440 or make allowances in your choice of a chord voicing.
Volume: If you only hear yourself on stage, perhaps you are too loud. Likewise, if you hear everyone else, but not yourself; turn up.
Be respectful of your fellow musicians, no matter what their ability may be. Everyone usually starts at the same place.
In regards to soloing, again please be respectful of other musicians in the jam. For example, rhythm guitar is not just something to waste your time on while you wait for your next solo. One of the lessons of a Blues Jam is to learn how to be as apt an accompanist as you hope to be as a soloist. The Jam Master will be generous with solos, but be mindful of other musicians that may be waiting to jam.
Lastly, have fun. Also respect the traditions as well as the innovations of the Blues. Likewise, respect the Charlotte Blues Society and The Rabbit Hole for providing the space and equipment for you to jam.
In Addition, we highly recommend you read and observe the following
"The Ten Commandments of Jam" from Derek Trucks.
1. Just listen.
Make sure that when you’re on stage with others, you are paying attention to what’s going on and not getting self-involved in your own world.
2. Respect everyone else’s musical space.
The easiest way to kill a vibe is by jumping in and adding your two cents too soon, while someone else is still trying to build something. Just let things happen.
3. Make you sure you are telling a story.
Never just be playing scales, filling space or going through the motions. Sometimes people resort to such tactics just to fill space but it’s always a mistake. Longer solos aren’t always better solos. Always have something to say.
4. Try to play an emotion.
Always be aware of what emotion you want to convey and try to tap into it. You can often hear what a great soloist is going through. It doesn’t take words to express a thought; you can definitely spell out emotions musically and should always strive to do so.
5. Never use the bandstand to practice.
Don’t waste time working through things. It’s great to take chances but not to try things you are completely unsure of. Save your practice time for off stage.
6. Treat the stage as your church.
Respect what you are doing. If you want people to respect what you’re doing and think it means something, you have to act like it does. All great artists treat the stage like it is sanctified.
7. Make sure your intentions are right.
Don’t be up there to boost your ego or career. Mean what you’re doing and appreciate it. You won’t get anywhere musically if you are just on stage to impress people.
8. Always make the band sound better.
Don’t just highlight what you do; serve the group and the music. Playing rhythm behind someone or even sitting out at the right moment is just as important as soloing. Some people sound great when they’re doing their thing but just get in the way when they’re not.
9. Educate with your music.
Always move forward and turn your audience on to new things instead of relying on the same old tricks. A core audience gets stuck listening to one group and think that’s it, but you’re around so much music and should always be inspired by new things. It’s important to pass that along, and it keeps you out of ruts.
10, Make sure you mean what you’re doing.
Do what you want and love. If you’re playing with somebody, you might as well do it right. No matter what the gig, dig in and go to town.
The Blues Jam has always been a favorite event at Blues Society meetings, and The Instigators always provide a solid base to build a jam on.
Once again we have a list of songs that WILL be played during the jam. This is especially helpful for new jammers.
Songs for next Jam Charlotte Blues Society
Each is listed with Song, Artist, Key and a link to video for reference:
The Thrill is Gone Eric Clapton & BB King Bm
I’m Tore Down Eric Clapton C
Little By Little Junior Wells & Buddy Guy A
Who’s Been Talkin? Howlin’ Wolf Am
Honey Hush Albert Collins C
a/k/a Talkin Woman Blues
The CHARLOTTE BLUES SOCIETY (CBS)
is dedicated to the promotion and preservation of the American Blues tradition through the presentation of concerts, forums, educational programs and support of local musicians in Charlotte and the surrounding areas.
CBS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization governed by a Board of Directors and operated by an all-volunteer staff. CBS is an affiliated member of The Blues Foundation, the umbrella organization for a worldwide network of 165 affiliated Blues societies and has individual memberships around the globe.
As a 501(c)3 organization, we have been raising funds through Guitar Raffles. You gotta love this sweet number!
It's a Candy Apple Red Fender Squier Strat donated by Ray Otstott, and the signatures have already begun...the first this time was Albert Castiglia
Samantha Fish, Eric Gales, and guitar wiz Jonathan Long have already added their signatures.
Raffle tickets on sale now at all our events.
There will only be 400 tickets printed this year When they are gone, they are gone.
Drawing will be held December 1, 2019.
With all the great acts coming to town this year, it should be a banner year to collect more autographs.
At this time, we want to thank all the artists who have signed our raffle guitars. We appreciate you more than you will ever know. And we know every signature makes that guitar more valuable, and a hotter ticket to purchase.
All proceeds are donations and benefit Charlotte Blues Society. Those dollars help us in our mission of Keeping the Blues Alive. Thank you musicians!
Thanks for your support! Thanks to all who buy a ticket. Remember: it only takes one to win!
In 2017 CBS decided it was time for us to reach out to our community and adopt another charity.
Loaves and Fishes fed over 77,000 people in the Charlotte area in 2017. A huge percentage of those being fed were children. We committed to collecting donations of non-perishable food items at every Blues Sunday event through the year.
We have recommitted ourselves to them again this year.
We will always take donations at every blues event we attend outside of our own, (providing the venue allows it) Funds raised will be used to purchase the most needed items for the Loaves and Fishes food pantry every month.
In 2018 we donated 1812 pounds of food and over $200 from events.
Our goal in 2019 is to reach that 2000 pound mark: a full ton by the end of the year.
All we ask is that you bring non-perishable food items to our events, and we will make sure Loaves & Fishes receives it.
"1 Can? I Can!" : our battle cry against hunger.
Please look for us at all Blues events and consider bringing food or making a cash donation.
Blues for Food. We Can make a difference!
We also encourage you to donate directly to Loaves and Fishes here
Walter Trout Signing 2018 raffle guitar
The 35th International Blues Challenge was held January 22-26 2019 in Memphis TN. Representing Charlotte Blues Society were Jake Haldenvang solo/duo and The Chris Clifton Band band . Congrats to both.
Jake advanced to the Semi-Finals after the first two nights. Although he did not make it to the finals, he showed the world the talent we have here in NC Congratulations to all that competed in this International Competition. Our Solo/Duo & Band Challenges to determine who will represent us in 2020 will be held in September and October. If you are interested in competing, Randi S is at the helm for the competition this year.
Charlotte Blues Society
501(c)3 Non Profit
The New Home of Charlotte Blues Society
1801 Commonwealth Ave, Charlotte NC
Meeting the 1st Sunday of the month.
Check our Calendar for Guest Artists and Events
We do not sell or give your information to any third party. You may opt out at any time.
Larkin Poe with CBS Rick Kite & autographed Guitar