Blues In Britain Vol. 1  Issue 73 January 2008

The John O'Leary Band

The Oval Blues Club, Croydon,  Sunday 18th November 2007

The name of John O'Leary is synonymous with British Blues and Blues harmonica playing at its best. He is part of a British tradition that can be traced back to the sixties. It is no wonder then that a capacity crowd of enthusiasts came to watch his band at the Oval Tavern on this night. He was more than ably supported by an excellent band which consisted of Jules Fothergill on guitar, Joachim Greve on drums, Jools Grudgings on keyboards and Ian Mauricio on bass (who was standing in for Roger Inniss who was stranded on a ferry in the English Channel).
In true blues style the band did an instrumental warm up number, with great guitar work from Jules prior to John O'Leary taking the stage. John started with "Born In Chicago", one of his trademark numbers with a full-blown harmonica solo and fine work from the other soloists. On Junior Wells "Snatch It Back" we had more fine work including a subtle jazzy guitar solo from Jules. "Early In The Morning" featured an extended harmonica solo from John, a great Hammond sound from Jools and full-bodied cooking guitar from Jules. On "Drifting Blues" the band pulled out all the stops and Jules shone on guitar. The set finished with the feisty "Little By Little" with great solos from the whole ensemble to please the fully appreciative capacity crowd. 

The band again did a warm up for the second set with Jules on vocal duties and playing some great guitar and a great drum solo from Joachim. John let the harmonica do the talking on the intro for "Look On Yonder Wall", which segued into "Help Me" and back again. Ace harmonica player Laurie Garman guested on "She's 19 years Old" with John on vocals. Laurie's harmonica playing has a great tone, and it's no wonder he enjoys the reputation he has. John took over the harmonica honours on "It's The Cause Of It All" while Laurie guested on the next number. Then John played "Black Cat Bone" which segued into reggae at the end. The band finished the evening with "Pink Champagne" with Terry Wisby from Texas Thunder guesting on guitar.
This was a fine evening's entertainment from a fine band and great guests. The John O'Leary band is an excellent ensemble. All the musicians are top notch and have all deserved reputations in their own right. John is rightly proud of this band and he benefits from having such great support, he certainly capitalises on it. Long may they continue to entertain... Bill Smith