Where Yat? Review, "Mix It Up!"

"Washboard Chaz” Leary is a Frenchmen Street icon whose raw blues style transports the listener back in time and place, to the Mississippi Delta “Crossroads” cotton country, circa 1940s. On this CD, Chaz assembled a formidable trio, consisting of himself on his namesake washboard, Roberto Luti (of Roberto & Lissa) on dobro guitar, and Andy J. Forest, a leader of his own band, on harmonica and backing vocals. The record’s fifteen tracks are nearly all short pieces (generally three minutes and under), but they pack a lot of action and emotion into each of the selections.

Offbeat Review, "Mix It Up!"

Mix it Up is the sound of a well-oiled machine. Instead of sounding like three instruments, the trio sounds like one complex instrument, one that recalls a fight between Sarge and Beetle Bailey in the comic strips. Instead of an arm or leg emerging from the dusty ball of cartoon bodies, a harmonica part jumps out for a moment before disappearing back into the ball of sound, then moments later, the same thing happens to a slide guitar lick or the bell on Chaz Leary’s washboard. Everybody plays rhythm, everybody plays lead, and new songs by the band, harmonica player Andy J. Forest and Alex McMurray sit comfortably next to songs by Bill Broonzy, Furry Lewis and Skip James. Read full the Offbeat Review.

Best of New Orleans Review, "Mix It Up!"

The constantly gigging Washboard Chaz Trio is one of the most reliable good times to be had in New Orleans, and on this latest release, Mix It Up, thankfully, he doesn’t. Mix up a good formula, that is. The album features 15 solid tracks of rollicking party blues that cheerfully careen along, propelled by Chaz’s skittering washboard and punctuated by his trademark bicycle bell. A few tracks veer slightly off the junk-blues formula. The cut ‘Summer’s Gone” was penned by Chaz’s Tin Men bandmate Alex McMurray, whose easy melancholy could have been plucked from Tom Waits’ Closing Time. Skip James’ ‘I’m So Glad” gains a spooky touch from Roberto Luti’s ominous guitar. And ‘Dodge,” with Andy J. Forest on lead vocals, has Dave Alvin-style country-rock horsepower. The good-time atmosphere is plumped up by the surprisingly large sound three guys can make with just washboard percussion, guitar and harmonica. Chaz can make his instrument sound like a junkyard symphony, and combined with Forest’s harmonica honk and Luti’s expert picking, the album shakes up the classics with grace and good vibes. Article by Allison Fensterstock, Best of New Orleans, April 15th, 2008.

Offbeat Review of Washboard Chaz Blues Trio, “Hard Year Blues“

Washboard Chaz Leary has become a fixture on the New Orleans club scene a constant presence fronting his own band or playing with the Tin Men, The Palmetto Bug Stompers, Andy J. Forest and many others. One of the alternative programs opposite this year’s Jazz and Heritage Festival was even dubbed “Chaz Fest.” Read The Offbeat Review – By John Swenson, Offbeat Magzine Oct 2006

Michael ”Hawkeye” Herman, ”It’s All Blues to Me”

What flat out makes this record though, is the reduction of percussion to just washboard,with the odd thump on a countertop or splash of a tiny cymbal.Washboard Chaz is Herman’s ace and he is a wonder. Forget the hillbilly racket associated with the washboard. Chaz makes it rattle like a snake, skip like a schoolgirl,tick like a clock or vibrate like the motor on grandma’s washing machine. Chaz finds the mood for every tune, even when Herman ranges out to the far edges of the blues. – Victory Music Review, Feb 2006

Washboard Chaz Blues Trio, “Dog Days”

Feet start tapping and heads start nodding as soon as the sound of Dog Days reaches anyone’s ears The trio features Washboard Chaz Leary (washboard and vocals),Roberto Luti ( guitar) and Ben Maygarden (harmonica and vocals), creating a classic acoustic blues sound with a bit of New Orleans flavor thrown in. One of the highlight of the album is “Stagolee”, an old, traditional song that comes off as fresh and new in this recording. The majority of the album maintains a pace that makes the songs sound happy and upbeat whether the subject of the lyrics matches the vibe, as in ”Real Best Friend” or the subject and sound seem to be in stark contrast with each other as in “Knocking Myself Out” – Leah Snyder, WYAT Magazine, June ’05

Tin Men, “Freaks For Industry”

The Tin Men spend as much time revelling in the sheer rhythmic joy of standards like Fats waller’s “Your Feets Too Big” and Cab Calloway’s “Man From Harlem” (assisted by the Pfister Sisters) as they do ripping out the wires out of slightly more modern standards like “I’m Gonna Be A Wheel Someday”, “Mess Around” and ”Immigrant Song” (Yes, that one). – Robert Fontenot, Offbeat June 2005

Fauburg Marigny: The Way The Quarter Used To Be.

For a more relaxed atmosphere, just walk down the street and follow the music.It comes wafting out of the Spotted Cat (623 Frenchmen), an intimate bar/club whose bandstand is set up near the front doorThere’s no cover, so for the price of a beer you can settle back in a leopardskin chair and let the music wash over you. And we do mean wash: Most Saturday nights, Washboard Chaz Leary and his acoustic jazz band playclassic old time blues on guitar, harmonica and one hell of a washboard (cofee cans and front desk bell included). – K.C.Summers, Washington Post, Sunday April 10, 2005

The Washboard Chaz Blues Trio delivers the goods again!

If you’re not familiar with this local acoustic blues band, you should be. Their bare bones approach (washboard, guitar and harmonica), toe-tapping, beer fueled melodies and plaintive vocals are sure to bring a smile to your weary face. Recorded late this summer (hence the title), the CD offers a couple of appealing originals (“Real Best Friend” is especially effective) and a gang of tasty covers. Their stripped down interpretations of classic old time blues numbers could only be described as “deceptively simple.” How they managed to bring new life to an old war horse like “Stagolee,” I can’t quite figure out, but that is exactly what they did. Special guests on the new album include OffBeat columnist and guitarist Marc Stone, Andy J. Forrest and St. Louis Slim. You can usually find these professional buskers at the Spotted Cat on Frenchmen Street and that is exactly where you will find them on Saturday, December 4, when they hold the official release party for Dog Days. – Blake Thompson, Offbeat Magazine, Dec 2004

Additional Reviews of Chaz

“There are lots of washboard men in zydeco bands, and lots of country blues is done with it, but Chaz is the best.”
– John Hammond

“Washboard Chaz is untouchable in his medium.”
– Colorado Music World

(Accompanying John Hammond) “Mr. Leary’s metallic strummings and rolls are an absolute delight.”
– Kansas City Star

(Album Review) “Even on a record, you can always tell Washboard Chaz Leary’s havin fun.”
– Blues Access

“Ophelia folks are familiar with Koerner’s version (of Jack of Diamonds) and lovingly improved it with the sweetest washboard underpinnings ever attached to a song.”
– Record Roundup – Somerville, MA

“Washboard Chaz Leary is something of a legend in the Boulder area. What this man does with mundane, everyday items is nothing short of amazing.”
– Pitch Weekly – Kansas City, MO

Festivals Chaz Has Played

Breminale Blues Festival – Bremen, Germany

New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival – New Orleans, LA

Mississippi Valley Blues Festival – Davenport, IA

Telluride Jazz Festival – Telluride, CO

Telluride Bluegrass Festival – Telluride, CO

LoDo Music Festival – Denver, CO

Kansas City Blues and Jazz Festival – Kansas City, MO

King Biscuit Festival – Helena, AK

Lyons Taste of the Blues Festival – Lyons, CO
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