Washington-based singer-songwriter/producer Michael O'Neill sits atop an impressive heap of writing and performing credentials. From legendary Stax soul guitarist/tunesmith Steve Cropper ('Sitting On the Dock of the Bay,' 'In the Midnight Hour,' 'Knock on Wood'), to the Grateful Dead's Bob Weir, to members of Little Feat, Poco, Chicago and other popular bands of the '60s, '70s and '80s, O'Neill's numerous songwriting collaborations have given him rich soil in which to cultivate his roots-rock sensibilities. O'Neill's musical fire was first sparked by the West Coast-centered '60s folk and folk-rock scenes, turning him into sponge for anything and everything he could feed his ears. 'The folk music brought the words, the rock and blues gave a beat, and the middle class kids sang in harmonies,' O'Neill says, recounting the influences he later shaped into a rootsy, melodic sound. He gained on-the-job music education when he took a production job for Concerts West, exposing him to touring musicians like B.B. King, Elvin Bishop, and The Byrds. Inspired more by the emotional impact of a good song than visions of guitar godliness, O'Neill advanced his own songwriting craft on the college and club circuit, eventually ending up in Los Angeles signed to Jet Records. The Jet recording sessions led to the formation of the Michael O'Neill Band, featuring Kenny Gradney and Sam Clayton of Little Feat, John Shanks from the Melissa Etheridge Band, Steve Chapman from Poco, and James Openhime Jazz Saxophonist Bonny James. The group went on to record for Geffen and Warner Brothers, and toured with Bob Weir and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Along the way, O'Neill continued to hone his songwriting chops, penning music with Steve Cropper, Jeff 'Skunk' Baxter (Steely Dan, Doobie Brothers), bassist/singer Jason Sheff (Chicago), and Bob Weir These writing sessions yielded tunes for Dolly Parton, Dave Edmunds, the Everly Brothers, and Bill Medley. Around 1990, O'Neill relocated to the Northwest, but found that his music didn't fit into the burgeoning grunge scene. He found better reception on the college coffeehouse circuit, where his breadth of musical knowledge enabled him not only to perform, but also conduct workshops on songwriting and navigating the rough currents of the music business. O'Neill's latest effort, Dream On, features two tracks co-written with Cropper and one with Weir (the B3-soaked groove-blues CD opener, 'Love Go Bad'). Throughout the CD, on tunes like the upbeat roots-reggae flavored 'Pick It Up' (penned with John Shanks); the electric guitar-fueled, melodically contoured title track; and the hooky, Tom Petty-esque chorus of 'Hold Me Now', O'Neill invests his soulful tenor with a sweet yearning that smoothly bridges his roots and pop tastes. ____ Quotes & Reviews: 'Michael O'Neill's Soul-Folk brand of Rock wins over the heartland and the city slickers alike with his rich melodies and storylike lyrics.' - Cindy Paine, The Los Angeles Music Connection 'Not so much songs of innocence as experience, conveyed warmly and passionately...well above the usual singer/songwriter standard.' - Chris Nickerson, The Seattle Rocket 'Pop-Rock writer Michael O'Neill has a list of national writing credits that won't quit. This is solid pop material.' -Chris Lunn, The Victory Review.
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