Here is a video of Wesley Orsolic’s “Who I Am,” from his album “Carry On.” This is from a performance on Nov. 25, in Carson City, Nevada. Lowell Wilson is the keyboard player and the drummer is Liz Broscoe.
A lot of great guitarists come through Lake Tahoe as they tour around the country in their respective bands. Apparently, it’s a great place to visit and play, but not somewhere to settle down. But Wesley Orsolic is one of those rare gifted guitarists who decided to live amid the pines and mountains of Lake Tahoe. The location is ripe for inspiration and it surely played a part in Orsolic’s creation of his solid blues release, “Carry On.”
Orsolic began playing the guitar at the age of 6 and by age 14 was bouncing around Europe touring with a handful of musical projects. His skills eventually led him to be an in-demand guitarist in his native Croatia. In an attempt to diversify and hone his guitar playing, Orsolic attended Berklee School of Music in Boston and within two years was invited to Los Angeles by Motown Records.
He also started his own band, Raw Nature, which was stationed in L.A., Las Vegas and San Francisco before he determined the shores of Lake Tahoe would be his home. Orsolic and his band released a handful of albums in the early 2000’s before he released his first proper solo album, “Now and Then,” in 2006. “Carry On” is his first album since 2006.
Orsolic’s globetrotting and session work has certainly honed his skills, and “Carry On” is a confident representation of what he can accomplish as a songwriter and guitarist. The album is a bluesy affair, though it will bring more smiles to people’s faces than trips to the bottom of the bottle. The title track “Carry On” rises like a range of mountains on the horizon as you find your way to their foothills. The dirt road soul number finds Orsolic laying down beautiful resonator guitar to a gentle beat and uplifting organ. “Better Times” is a sunny blues offering that feels like the first cup of coffee in the morning; it is warm and puts a little pep in your step.
What is remarkable about Orsolic’s guitar playing is how nonchalant it is. It does not grab and shake you, but it does demand attention. The heartfelt “Hurricane” is a perfect example. The song is a calm gospel track and the hushed tone allows Orsolic to drizzle serendipitous notes throughout the verses. His angelic playing defines the song and it is a standout on the album. The skill with which Orsolic deploys his guitar solo on the southern blues of “Take Me Home” is pleasant and “It’s a Kinda Lovin’ ” is a straight-ahead blues number that Orsolic sears with ease.
Orsolic has spent a lifetime playing with the best players in the music business and rightfully employed some of them to lend their talents to “Carry On.” Roger Smith of Tower of Power sits-in on B3 Hammond and synthesizer, Myron Dove of Santana and Robben Ford holds down the low end on bass and John Burr from the Joe Craven Trio and Robben Ford adds his keyboard riffs. Their addition certainly adds a nice touch to the album and the invigorating “Remedy” and loose “Home Town” could have faltered in less accomplished hands.
“Carry On” is a sturdy album that highlights one of the best guitar players in the Lake Tahoe region. Orsolic’s skills seem effortless, though it has come from a life working at his craft with some of the most renowned musicians in the world. Well, his work has paid off and another album with the musicianship of “Carry On” is certainly welcomed the next time Orsolic gets around to it.
- Wesley Orsolic
Notable Tracks: “Hurricane,” “Carry On”