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Wildcat O'Halloran Interview

Tell us the brief history of your band or musical career. I've been a fixture on the music scene in Western Mass since 1968....when blues legends started touring here, I began opening shows for James Cotton, John Lee Hooker and many more...later, Greg Allman and Stray Cats....served as backing band for Bo Diddley. Won a bunch of 'Honorable Mentions" and "Runner-Ups" in music contests (including Stroh's Superstar Talent Search and Billboard Songwriting Contest), and began releasing recordings. Didn't really tour outside New England until 2015....since then, have played in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Virginia, and California. Then came which point, we became the kings of the tent-cities that sprang up outside every restaurant here. Meanwhile, our Covid-year release "You Can't Fall Off The Floor" came in at #88 for the entire year on Roots Music Radio report. Our newest album " Here Lies A Fool" has bounced around the charts for most of this year. Who are your musical and non-musical influences? When asked that question, I always start with the directness of Albert King, contrasted with the complexity of Mike Bloomfield. I also loved Johnny Winter and Shuggie Otis. Thinking about what actually affected my playing, I realized that the way B.B. King seamlessly blended major and minor pentatonic to suggest familiar blues themes, but with innovative coloration was a big part of what I do. When legendary Cotton drummer Kennard Johnson relocated in Mass., he became a personal blues coach. My absolute favorite compliment was when he asked my wife " Did your husband go to a different music school than the other white boys?" And can't forget the personal magnetism of the always gracious, always unflappable Muddy Waters, who had a self-assurance uncommon in show business. What made you want to play the instrument you play? For musicians of my generation, a common theme is: Beatlemania.......followed by Clapton/Hendrix.......followed by more rootsy blues guys (Buddy Guy, Magic Sam etc.).....for me, the next step was meeting some of those guys close up, and watching them work a stage I had just come off. I had played other instruments, but somehow became totally wrapped up in the guitar in a way that had never happened with the others. I see ads for "guitar systems" that say "learn to play without investing 20,000 hours".....and I think "Why wouldn't you want to spend 20,000 hours? What have you got to do better than playing guitar?' What is your favorite piece of gear and why? I'm still using the 1965 Esquire that I bought in the summer of 1969, for $170. After saving all summer for a beautiful Strat, I arrived at the local music store to find it sold. They then put into my hands the ugliest guitar I had ever seen. I played it. I loved it. I still use it... almost all the time. I often plug it into a $90 Supro Thundrbolt that I bought in a used furniture store. I like to tell the audience " I've got $260 tied up in being a musician....I can''t quit til I break even!" How are you continuing to grow musically? Whether I want to face it or not, the fact is that my recent albums all hung their hat on the interplay of my guitar with Emily Duff's sax.....and that part is, sadly, over. The Pirate Queen has said "ship ahoy!" and joined the U.S. Navy band.....a band with dental insurance, and free housing! I feel like Muddy Waters after Little Walter departed, when he said " I realized that I had to put that slide on my finger and forge ahead" While I'm thrilled for Em, I played the tough guy about the loss to the band. I told her " I'll climb on the furniture, play one-handed, and set the guitar on fire, and the audience won't even notice you're gone". Innocent child that she is, she tilted her head and asked "Really?" Couldn't maintain the tough guy face..."No, not really". Fact is, I've done a lot of climbing this past year, with a number of my area friends filling in. This year, we may go back to our Harp/guitar roots, and put away the "stretching the form" stuff. For a while. Tell me what your first music teacher was like. What lessons did you learn from them that you still use today? Though not technically my first teacher, I love telling stories about J. Anthony Di Giore, who cold-called schools about his instrument rental--music lesson---band program, eventually building a large empire, partly because of his budget-friendly "group lessons". This not only exposed students immediately to what playing with others entailed (and sounded like), but gave him the chance to review the lesson 7-8 times, as he worked his way through the lineup of kids. No soundcheck? Self-balance the band? Room as echo-ey as a high school gym? No Problem! If you had to choose one... live performance or studio work, which do you prefer and why? Let's not get this twisted......I absolutely ADORE recording. I've done a ton of it (have lost count of the number of albums I've released ....16?....not to mention other folks work that have included me....and live stuff....and reel-to-reel recordings back in high school) am VERY comfortable doing it.....and it allows you to tweak your musical ideas to something nearing perfection. But the purpose of all that is to reach people, and so, if one had to go, it would be recording. When you're live, you bring the music to the people directly, and can read, adjust and interact in real time. Live without recording has the sad quality of art that sails off in space, lost to eternity....but recording without live is too much like tennis without a net. Give us some advice for new musicians just starting out in the industry. The new musicians may not like either of these, but here goes: One, you're going to spend a tremendous amount of time begging for people's attention. Remember this is not an end in itself. Constantly ask yourself " If I DID get the full attention of a large group, do I have something worthwhile to tell them?" It doesn't have to be something of ponderous significance, but it needs to be something that needs hearing. And Two: As exciting as it is that you can make sounds, these sounds are in service to a band. And the band is in service to a song. And the song, while of value to the audience, is a luxury item. You are not delivering medical supplies to a war zone. You are not a superhuman hero. You are being paid to communicate interesting sounds to your fellow humans, a privilege that is not guaranteed. What are your interests outside of music? When being the Wildcat didn't pay the bills, I did (and later taught) HVAC. You can see me testing an oil burner in the video for Midnight Service Call Before that, I was a short order cook And long time fans know about my long obsession with softball

What is the best way to stay updated on current news; gigs, releases, etc.

There's the Wildcat Website various Facebook pages, such as . I have Twitter and Instagram, but rarely post to them.


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