Matt O'Ree Band

West Long Branch, NJ

Matt O'Ree Band
Pollak Theater
West Long Branch, NJ
Review by Amanda Lehman
Photos by Estelle Massry

The Matt O'Ree Band is a NJ based Blues/Rock/Roots band, influenced by the masters such as, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Hendrix, Cream, and Led Zeppelin.
The Matt O’Ree/Eryn show at the Pollak Theater on Saturday night started out with a slow acoustic set, climbing to a crescendo and ending with a genuine rock barrage.

Eryn O'Ree performed several songs off of her EP, "Lady E", beginning with "Stranger in My House", a dramatic and emotional tune that showcases Eryn’s powerhouse vocals and acoustic guitar.

John Ginty, regular organist for the Dixie Chicks joined to play on "Running Red Lights", a romantic plodding tune that’s reminiscent of a scene in a Bridget Jones film, where she’s tracking down her man to finally profess her love.  

Then Eryn’s husband, the man himself, Matt O’Ree joined the fray to play "Just Jump", a song demonstrating not only Eryn’s incredible vocal range, but the ample chemistry between the couple on stage.

​Then as if that wasn’t enough of a treat, John Hummel joins on tambourine and Layonne Holmes on backing vocals, each a masterful musician in his and her own right. 
All of these talented musicians remained for "Hallelujah You’re Gone", a soulful anthem of moving on and overcoming adversity. This version of "Hallelujah You’re Gone" included a playful mash up with "Spill the Wine" by War.

Lex Lehman joined on smooth sweet bass guitar for a new song called "Without You" where Eryn sang solo. A wonderful, infectious tune that Eryn and the band "killed". 

There was a quick break before the Matt O’Ree Band started a full electric rocking blast with the instrumental "88 Miles" off of Matt's album of the same name, and then they tore right into "Ten", off of Brotherhood, with Matt’s gritty lead vocals and the smooth backings of Eryn and Layonne.

Then, continuing off of Brotherhood, came the driving drums of John Hummel on "Saints and Sinners" where the percussive vibrations actually knocked the top speaker off of the P.A. stack.  The backing vocals highlighted Matt’s bluesy belting and Matt and Ginty traded solos back and forth.  The band went right into "I Don't Dance" and "Good Enough", during which the crowd showed their great appreciation for Matt's guitar solo.  

Next, Matt reached way back to his album Shelf Life to play the anti-marriage anthem "Marry You".  Matt was quick to point out that "Marry You" came at a time long before he imagined his happy nuptials with his wife Eryn - the crowd approved.  Then, off of the same album, the band played "Worth the Live" highlighting the funky stylings of Ginty on organ and a slow blues dynamics-ranging solo from Matt, bringing the crowd to applause multiple times mid-song.  

At this point in the show, Matt introduced the band: Lex Lehman on bass guitar, John Hummel on drums, Layonne Holmes and Eryn O'Ree on backing vocals, and special guest John Ginty on Hammond B3 organ, who Matt boasted with pride will be going on tour with the Allman Betts Band.  ​

With a return to the Brotherhood album, the band played "Born Under a Bad Sign" and "My Everything is You", co-written with David Bryan of Bon Jovi.  The band took a break and Matt played the acoustic instrumental "Song for Bernie" for his departed friend and supporter.  Matt was then joined by Layonne and Eryn on backing vocals for the acoustic song with tight harmonies, "Awkward Silence".  

The full band returned for fan favorite Eric Clapton cover "Bell Bottom Blues" and original tune "Big Jenna".  The second cover of the night was "Funk 49" from the James Gang. Hummel usually pummels the drums in an ear bending solo break, but in a twist, Hummel presented Ginty with a musical duel in which the two strutted their talents.  Matt then began the countdown for the evening with a trio of Brotherhood tunes: "December Gray", "It's Gunna Be Alright" and "Black Boots".  

The band wrapped up the evening, no encore break this time, with the cover "30 Days in the Hole" by Humble Pie and it's powerful a cappella vocal intro in harmony, filling out the song with stunning solos by Matt and Ginty.  It was a satisfying ending to a value packed evening with an all-star ensemble.​
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