by Paul Cashmere, Noise11
New Jersey guitarist Matt O’Ree has joined Bon Jovi, replacing touring member Bobby Bandiera.
Phil X appears on the current Bon Jovi album Burning Bridges, Bon Jovi’s F.U. to Universal Music, and will also be the featured guitarist on the next album due in 2016. He will remain lead guitarist for Bon Jovi with O’Ree joining as a second guitarist.
Matt O’Ree formed his own band, The Matt O’Ree Band, in New Jersey in 1994. Like former guitarist Richie Sambora, O’Ree is a bluesman at heart, citing Albert King, Howlin’ Wolf, Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan as his influences.
Matt O’Ree’s Biography from mattoree.com:
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!