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Arts & Culture

Old Souls Quit Their Day Jobs And Tour The UK

WADE GOODWYN, HOST:

There are a lot of bands out there trying to make it; musicians working day jobs, crashing on couches, hauling their amps into dark, cramped clubs. Few will make it big.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LETTERS")

MARTY O'REILLY AND THE OLD SOUL ORCHESTRA: (Singing) I'm learning how to worry, never was the worrying kind. She left me in Texas - Texas with a worried mind.

GOODWYN: Marty O'Reilly and the Old Soul Orchestra entered NPR's Tiny Desk Concert contest a few months back. They're from Santa Cruz, Calif., and have been together for about two-and-a-half years. Most of the time they tour the West Coast, crashing on friends' couches, but in July and August the Old Souls go to the British Isles and that's where we are talking to them. Marty O'Reilly joins us now from Kelvedon, England. Hi, Marty.

O'REILLY: Hello.

GOODWYN: You've done about - what - five gigs so far. How's it going over there?

O'REILLY: It's going well, and it actually - it feels like more. We've been playing every day, so every night we've had a show and the few days that we didn't we were in a recording studio recording. So we've been going strong the whole time since we got here.

GOODWYN: I understand that about nine months after you guys first got together you decided to quit your day jobs and take the plunge as a full-time band. Tell us about that.

O'REILLY: Well, part of that decision actually involved coming to England. You know, we were all working day jobs and playing shows at night, but when this opportunity came up, we were sort of faced with a decision because we couldn't go and tour in the United Kingdom for six weeks and expect to have jobs when we came back. And so we decided all right, this is an opportunity of a lifetime and we should really just go for it and take a risk and see what happens. And I don't think any of us regret doing that.

GOODWYN: We're going to play a little bit of your song "Preach'Em Now," which has a great backbeat - got me moving.

O'REILLY: (Laughter) Glad to hear it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PREACH'EM NOW")

GOODWYN: This is a very American-sounding music for - at least to me. How's it being received?

O'REILLY: It's been received well. And it's interesting because we do a rendition of "Smokestack Lightning" by Howlin' Wolf. And it's sort of a similar, really deep, heavy Delta blues feel to it, and actually at this particular venue last year we started with that piece and got a standing ovation after the first song. I think that people here just really connect with blues music and the deep, rootsy quality.

GOODWYN: Marty O'Reilly is touring with his band the Old Soul Orchestra in Britain. Good luck.

O'REILLY: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.