Alligator Recoding Artist Chris O’Leary’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, Steely Dan, Albert Lee, Jamey Johnson, Warren Haynes, Michael Mcdonald and the great James Cotton to name just a few. Chris has also recorded with Bill Perry,Hubert Sumlin, and Richie Havens 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. Their Live At Blues Now and Seven Minutes Late releases also garnered them Blues Blast Award nominations.
 The latest critically acclaimed Alligator release The Hard Line debuted at #1 on the Billboard blues charts and reached #1 on virtually every radio chart in the US and abroad .

Latest Album


“Chris was the lead singer and front man for Levon Helm’s Barnburners for six years as well as fronting his own band.  He has also taken the stage with such luminaries as Bobby Keys, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Jeff Healy, Albert Lee, James Cotton and more…making him a bonafide seasoned professional.  We live in an age when every hotshot guitarist, harp player, vocalist and so on, is touted as the “real deal”, and the greatest thing since sliced bread.  In O’Leary’s case, the roadwork, and all that goes with it, bears witness to his love for the music and his determination to pursue a career doing what he loves.  7 Minutes Late is, in my opinion, his strongest work to date.  Accompanied by his stellar band and a trio of guests, Chris burns his way through a dozen tunes, totaling over 70 minutes.  Often in albums of this length, there are a couple tunes thrown in just as filler.  That is not the case with this one.   There is not a single weak tune on the disc.  O’Leary’s songwriting is stronger than ever, his harp playing is off the charts, and his vocals are passionate and powerful.  While this may not be strictly a blues album in the traditional sense, it is every bit a blues album. Chris draws from deep wells of experience in various blues and blues-related styles.  This is the music that has filled roadhouses for ages…thought-provoking, danceable and incredibly entertaining, 7 Minutes Late is masterfully done, from start to finish.  From houserockin’ tunes to soulful ballads, Chris & company deliver a set that is sure to be listed among the all-time greats.”  — Bill Wilson, Reflections in Blue


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


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


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


Impressive, musically exciting modern blues…expressive harp playing echoes West Coast and Chicago harmonica at its best… slow and moody… up-tempo and stomping. O’Leary’s songwriting comes to the fore.”
— Blues & Rhythm UK


No Depression:
“Blistering originals…melding hard-core Chicago blues with soul….The results are rollicking, raw and forceful.”

Blues Music Magazine:
Excellent, high-energy performances…[The Hard Line] finds the groove on every song and is piloted by O’Leary’s perfect-for-blues tenor and his powerful, James cotton-inspired, polished harp virtuosity…a first-rate album.” 

Living Blues:
“A singer and harp player with a first-class pedigree…profound and hard-driving…a rollicking, riveting and defiant full-throttle set.”

Blues Matters (UK):
“Chris O’Leary is a compelling force in the blues…one of the genre’s most skilled yet understated figures…a profoundly soulful vocalist, powerhouse harmonica virtuoso and gifted songwriter.”

Blues Blast magazine:
“A blues harp virtuoso and master storyteller….The Hard Line is one of the most exciting blues albums to be released in 2024.”

Chicago Blues Guide:
“O’Leary achieves an entirely new level of success with this sensational contemporary blues release…O’Leary simply blazes…packed with emotion and intensity.”


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