Matt O'Ree Band

Matt O'Ree Band

Matt O'Ree has been cranking out the blues-rock since he was an early teen. With all the trappings of a genuine guitar hero, he plays with fire in his fingers and blues in his soul. At age 13, he sunk his roots in the blues - Albert King, Howlin' Wolf, to Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan. After establishing a good foundation, at age 15, Matt played in various bands, honing his skills through time and pure dedication.

Matt went on to study as a music major in college as well as start his own teachings with guitar students. While working as an intern at a recording studio, he began collaborating with various musicians trying to bring his idea to life. It was at this stage in his career that he found the right blend of people to create the band. In 1997, Matt began writing and recording material that evolved into his debut CD, 88 Miles. It was released in 1998 and gained national reviews and airplay, pushing the band to a higher level which included opening shows for national recording artists like Foreigner, Kansas, The Original Blues Brothers Band, Buddy Guy, Leslie West and Mountain, Blues Traveler, The Outlaws, Marshall Tucker, Gov't Mule, Robin Trower, Blue Oyster Cult, Johnny Winter, Edgar Winter. Dickie Betts, Dick Dale, Gretchen Wilson, The Screamin Cheetah Wheelies, Bernard Allison, Chris Duarte, Indigenous, Robby Kreiger, Gary Hoey, Walter Trout, Labambas Big Band, and Smokin' Joe Kubek.

The completion of his second CD, Chalk It Up, was the breaking point of blending blues and rock together to form a unique sound of his own. This was released in June 2001 and also received rave reviews with regional and national press recognition and airplay.

In March 2005, Matt released his third studio album titled Shelf Life It was featured in an issue of "Guitar World Magazine" appearing alongside numerous rock legends including Audioslave, Aerosmith, Jimi Hendrix, and The Deftones - that claims that "New Jersey's Matt O'Ree is quickly carving out a name for himself as 2006's new guitar hero." Shelf Life also won four Asbury Park Music Awards for: Best Blues Band, Best Guitarist, Best Local Release, Best Song of the Year - "Saints & Sinners"

Then on June 8, 2006, Matt became the Winner of Guitarmageddon "King of the Blues" guitar contest hosted by BB King and John Mayer through Guitar Center and Guitar World Magazine. Matt beat out over 4000 guitar players in that competition to win him the grand prize, multiple guitars and an endorsement from Gibson guitars, shopping sprees with Guitar Center and a car from Scion. This major accomplishment really propelled his career and the momentum for the future of the band.

2008 began a major change in not only the sound, but in the writing direction too. NJ native Hammond B3 player Eric Safka joined after years of discussing the idea with Matt. "We both knew it could work, but for various prior commitments, we didn't get it together till now…coming from 13 years as a three piece band, this change was the largest by far and the most important…Eric was the missing link". Not long after Eric joining, long time friend Scott Bennert joined on Bass coming from a top-notch working shore band. Scott quickly became the glue that really rooted the sound of the new band. The last piece of the puzzle didn't come until another year of hard struggles when finally John Hummel joined on Drums. Producer Jon Leidersdorff introduced Matt to John's talent and once heard, it was like a bolt of lightning. He was the sound of all sounds, a real diamond. Since then, every show has become more spectacular than the next. For the band, it was finally the right situation.

With the new line up complete, they have been working hard over the last two years on the next studio album with producer Jon Leidersdorff at Lakehouse Music in Asbury Park, NJ. They have been fortunate enough to land many special guest stars to contribute to their new release including Steve Cropper, John Popper, Bernie Worrell, and Hubert Sumlin. A new DVD release is also in the works of a show filmed during the summer of 2012 in Asbury Park and they have just released a new live CD titled "Live in Denver, CO" that was recorded while on tour in during the late spring of 2012 so make sure you pick up a copy today!

"I don't see any contradiction between playing a loud rock 'n' roll song or a quiet acoustic ballad, if it's all coming from a place that's real and honest," says Cold Roses' singer-guitarist-songwriter Rob Clancy.

Indeed, Cold Roses' new album Escape to Anywhere makes it clear that this is a band that's too busy making dynamic, personally charged music to recognize musical limitations or genre restrictions. The Philadelphia-bred sextet deftly merges forceful sonic punch, crafty melodic hooks and emotionally forthright lyrical content, while taking advantage of the varied sonic and textural palette provided by the band's expanded instrumental lineup.

Those qualities are apparent throughout the album's 12 original songs, from the surging, anthemic drive of "Staying Alive Ain't Easy" to the soulful drama of "Divine Lorraine" to the haunting orchestral balladry of "Words Without Speaking" to the inventive acoustic textures of "Next to You" to the soaring epic rock of "No Silence in the City."

The level of commitment that drives Escape to Anywhere has been deeply ingrained in Cold Roses since the band's scrappy beginnings on Philadelphia's highly competitive live music scene. Clancy was still in his early teens when he began playing drums and guitar in other people's bands, but it wasn't long before he embraced the urge to write his own songs and play his own music.

Towards that end, Clancy assembled Cold Roses, borrowing the name from a favorite Ryan Adams song, and evolving through a series of personnel changes into a singular creative force. Almost immediately, the new outfit established itself as a presence on the local club scene. Although the band briefly gigged as an acoustic trio before adopting a standard two-guitars-bass-and-drums format, Clancy's restless creative spirit eventually drove him to add keyboards, saxophone and trumpet to the band's lineup.

"I love '60s R&B and soul, so I looked to that stuff and thought, what would happen if we bring in a horn section?" Clancy recalls. "We brought them in to rehearsal, just to see how it would sound, and they just kind of stuck. Once we got them in the band, the whole vibe just changed. Having those additional elements to draw on gave us the ability to stretch out and make unpredictable choices.

"The band developed through trial and error," Clancy explains. "We'd try different things and keep the ones that worked. And as we played more and more, our chemistry got stronger and more intuitive."

Along the way, Cold Roses earned a fervent local fan base and a reputation as a powerful live act. Despite the band's lack of a mainstream record deal, Philadelphia's legendary album-rock station WMMR jumped on board, naming Cold Roses Artist of the Month and giving airplay to songs from the band's independently released indie album No Silence in the City. Eventually, stations across the country were playing Cold Roses tracks as well.

While Escape to Anywhere demonstrates Cold Roses' credentials as a world-class outfit, Clancy is quick to note the role that the band's hometown has played in developing Cold Roses' music and character. "This band has definitely been shaped by where we're from," he states, adding, "Philly made us a working band. In Philly, if you're a band playing original material, you really have to bust your ass, and that was a big lesson for us. All of the people in this band come from very different musical backgrounds, but we're all from this area, and that common ground is a big part of the band's foundation.

"Philly has an underdog quality, and it also has such a rich R&B and jazz heritage," Clancy asserts. "It's a town with a lot of heart that doesn't put up with bullshit, and it's a working-class town with a strong work ethic. It also has some of the toughest crowds in the country to win over. We’ve played to such a wide variety of people and found a way to connect with each one of them.”

The lessons learned on the band's home turf proved invaluable during the making of Escape to Anywhere. The band recorded the album – which marks the first release for indie label Recorded Records -- at Los Angeles' Cactus studio with veteran producers David J. Holman (who also engineered) and Roger Paglia.

"Doing this record was a very different experience for us," says Clancy. "The other records we've made were done at a very different time in my life and in the band's life. This is also the first time we've recorded with a bigger lineup, so it was a challenge to figure out how to make that work in the studio.

"We approached the whole thing very organically," he continues. "We recorded everything analog, and we recorded all of the rhythm tracks live, because it was important to us to capture the feel and keep the human quality. The whole thing was really exciting, experimenting with different sounds and different ways of performing the songs. It was also the first time we'd worked with producers, and it was good having someone who had a different perspective and could offer an unbiased opinion of what we were doing."

Escape to Anywhere also finds Clancy and company revisiting key songs from their sparsely distributed indie releases.

"'No Silence in the City,' 'Leave You Alone' and 'Words Without Speaking' are songs that we first recorded on our previous album, and 'Tired of Losing You' was a song that we originally released on an old single," Clancy notes. "But re-recording them, they were like new songs to me, because I was a different person when I wrote them, and because the band was a different band when we first recorded them. I think that the song 'Escape to Anywhere' really encompasses the album. It's about that feeling of always wanting to be somewhere else, but maybe not really being sure of exactly where you want to go."

That restless sense of adventure runs through Escape to Anywhere, and marks Cold Roses as a band to watch.

"It's been a long process getting this record out, but I feel like it's been worth it." Clancy concludes. "I feel like this band now is a well-oiled machine that's firing on all cylinders, so we're looking to getting out there and seeing what it can do."

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