Emmetsburg Native Releases Bluegrass CD
“If I could make a living, I’d play music all the time,” says Dan O’Leary, a native of Emmetsburg, who is steadily making a name for himself and his band the Beller’d Yellers.
O’Leary, a 1999 graduate of Emmetsburg High School, is the 28-year old son of Dan and Glo O’Leary and Cindy Laws. He resides in Northfield, Minnesota, and has been playing guitar since the age of 14. Last summer, he began playing banjo. Remarkably, O’Leary is essentially a self-taught musician.
Over eight years ago, O’Leary joined a group of fellow musicians to form the band Harmonic Voodoo. Harmonic Voodoo has played at venues in Emmetsburg as well as elsewhere throughout the upper Midwest. While Harmonic Voodoo plays a mix of rock n’ roll, rhythm and blues, funk, country, and folk music, the group has expanded into the world of bluegrass.
“I just started picking and it turned into something,” shares O’Leary. “The bluegrass scene in Minnesota is getting big.”
O’Leary is inspired by the music he hears. He enjoys many groups across different genres. He mentions the groups Pretty Near A Sandstone and Trampled By Turtles as some of his favorites.
With a new musical direction, it was also time for a change in the band’s name.
O’Leary and his bandmates are now known as the Beller’d Yellers. Bandmates include Ted Vig on guitar and baritone guitar; Scott Sutherland (Suds) on drums; Aaron Anderson (Doc) on bass; Jeff Paskell, guitar and mandolin; and Dan O’Leary on guitar, banjo, and vocals.
“The guys are very close and really support each other,” notes Glo O’Leary. “They’re really like a bunch of brothers.”
The Beller’d Yellers are in demand and play gigs and festivals throughout the region. Several of the band members also play in other area bands.
“We do a lot of jams,” O’Leary says. “Sometimes there’s up to 30 guys on one stage.”
It was at one of these gigs that a movie executive heard the band play. He liked their sound so much that he suggested their music would make excellent background music for a movie. That incident provided the motivation for O’Leary to pen his own songs and work on releasing a CD of the Beller’d Yellers’ own music.
The group began recording last summer, an endeavor that took over 150 hours to complete. Fortunately, the band’s drummer has recording equipment in his home. The result was the CD “Times In Minnesota,” which features eight songs.
“I’m not a good lyricist,” O’Leary states modestly. “I write the music first and then put the words to it. I’ve had a lot of the songs for some time.”
O’Leary admits that most of the songs he’s written are about growing up. One song, “Southbound Highway 4,” mentions coming home to Emmetsburg to the singer’s “rooftop heaven,” a direct reference to Dan and Glo O’Leary’s rooftop home in downtown Emmetsburg. Others pay respect to family members who have passed on–Kenny’s Song” is about O’Leary’s uncle, while the title track, “Times In Minnesota,” speaks of O’Leary spending time fishing with his grandfather.
“This is just a portion of the album, there’s more to come,” O’Leary says. “We’d like to get the rest of the songs together, come up with the needed money, and then do a nice recording of the songs at a studio in Northfield.“
The future may even hold a trip to Memphis, Tennessee, to record at the legendary Sun Records.
“This is kind of special,” Glo O’Leary smiles. “We’re really proud of Dan.“
CDs of the Beller’d Yellers “Times In Minnesota” are available at no cost at Once Again Consignments and Wentzel’s True Value in Emmetsburg.
“We just want to get Dan’s music out there and more people exposed to it,” says Glo O’Leary.