The Chicago outfit Howard & the White Boys' party-friendly set of guitar-driven blues, funk, and R&B features a variety of covers, including Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's "Walking Cane" and the venerable "Black Cat Bone," and their own "Booty & BBQ," all done in an uptempo, freewheeling style that's part traditional blues combo, part contemporary jam band. It's topped off with the guitar pyrotechnics of the fiery Pete Galanis.
Review By THOMAS J. CULLEN III
This popular Windy City quartet gained prominence as the house band at Buddy Guy’s Legends; this is their first album since 2000’s Live at Chord On Blues, Bassist /vocalist Howard McCullum, drummer Jim “Bucka” Christopulos, and guitarists Rocco Calipari and Pete Galanis (replacing harpist/guitarist Dan Bellini) are joined hereby Daryl Coutts and Dave Friebolin on keyboards. The disc includes only two originals, but the group digs deep into their vast repertoire to record some favorite covers in their idiosyncratic, high-energy style.
The album’s title is misleading, since four of its seven covers have generation-spanning Texas roots: early ZZ Top (the blustery “She Loves My Automobile”), early Fabulous Thunderbirds (the rock-ribbed rumba twist “Walking to My Baby”), and two chestnuts (the immortal T-Bone Walker weeper “Cold Cold Feeling” and a frantically hanky version of “Black Cat Bone,” Hop Wilson’s tale of bad luck and paranoia). The group turns out a spry version of Robert Cray’s signature song, “I’m in a Phone Booth Baby.” The only true Chicago blues here is Elmore James’ iconic “Yonder Wall,” performed in the declamatory style of Lonnie Brooks.
The biggest surprise is jazz drummer Greg Bandy’s funky sing-along dance anthem “Good Booty and BBQ,” which surely packs the dance floor when performed live. Both of the disc’s originals provide anomalous changes of pace: “Walk Away,” at more than eight minutes, is a languid soul stroller with serrated slide work, while the guitar-propelled “Coming Home” is a country-rock instrumental redolent of early Allman Brothers.
McCullum is a sturdy, versatile vocalist who eschews histrionics, and the band’s vastly varied catalog has forged McCullum and Christopulos into one of the best rhythm sections on the scene today. Though the liner notes fail to identify which guitarist plays lead and which plays slide, the tunes burst with fleet-fingered chords, serpentine slide work, and extended solos. Fans of the group will definitely want MADE IN CHICAGO, and those unfamiliar with this fun-loving band will find the disc a good place to start.
Review By Tom Branson Bluesrockers
In these days when it seems that most every CD I receive to consider for review is produced by the hands of yet another non-shaving aged guitar prodigy with visions of Stevie Ray dancing in his head complete with hired gun session players, it is indeed a pleasure when I get one from a real genuine band (yes they do exist even now). It is a double pleasure when the recording comes from one of the many great region bands from here in the US. The popular Chicago based band Howard and the White Boys are among my personal favorites of these bands, and are also high upon my “hope to see live soon” list.
With the release of their most recent and best to date project “Made In Chicago” it is highly likely that the band will also move onto the “must see” lists of many more folks from all across the world. Howard McCullum is a very diverse and gifted vocalist who is somewhat out of the Robert Cray mold in that he is perfectly capable of singing material ranging from gut wrenching blues to hot Chicago blues with some Little Milton style soul music added for good measure. He is also a much more than adequate bass player (and you know how partial I am to these guys). The White Boys are, as I stated earlier, truly a band and the chemistry among them is more than readily apparent on this recording. With the addition of guitarist Pete Galanis a few years back, the White boys, who were already very good, stepped into the ranks of “as good as it gets”. Add Galanis’ scorching guitar into an already formidable mix of guitarist Rocco Calipari and drummer Jim Christopulos and you have the kind of lineup from which legends are made. And, for just for a bit more icing, the band for this recording added some very fine keyboards compliments of Daryl Coutts and Dave Friebolin.
The material on this recording is, as in all of the bands previous recordings, very wide ranging in style. The previous recordings were more dominated by original tunes, however for this set the band has opted for seven very well chosen covers (not of the over recorded variety) and couple of very fine original tunes. While they have always written very solid original material (as are the 2 on this set), the covers on this set work brilliantly as they fit perfectly both Howard’s vocals and the band’s now more guitar aggressive lineup. There are far more than enough hot guitar licks on this CD to satisfy even the most hardened ax addict, with a few tunes extended to allow for plenty of fiery fretting. For this reason alone, if you liked the band’s older recordings, you are going to like this one even more.
“Made In Chicago” is a high quality recording from end to end, filled with molten guitar licks and right on rhythm, great Howard McCullum vocals, and tunes sure to get even the more advanced motors like mine running. The CD is very well engineered and the sound quality first rate. It is quite simply one of the best rocking blues recordings I have heard all year and you will want immediately to add “Made In Chicago” to your CD collection, even if it is as grossly overpopulated as mine (according to the little lady).
1. She Loves My Automobile
2. Walk Away
3. Good Booty and BBQ
4. Walking to My Baby
5. I'm in a Phone Booth Baby
6. Yonder Wall
7. Cold Cold Feeling
8. Black Cat Bone
9. Coming Home
It’s been six years since Chicago blues veterans Howard & the White Boys last put out a CD, but their new Evidence Records release, Made in Chicago, more than makes up for lost time. Their impressively large fan base on both sides of the Atlantic won’t be disappointed. Not by a long shot. Made in Chicago represents the zenith of the band’s recorded output, and it’s certainly the disc that Howard & the White Boys are most proud of. While the band hasn’t recorded in six years, they’ve been gigging continuously throughout the U.S. and Europe and this has lent their trademark brand of contemporary blues an indomitable tightness brimming with raw power. All of this comes through on the new disc, proving that the wait was well worth it.
While past studio outings spotlight the group’s songwriting prowess and contain 90% original material, Made in Chicago affords the band an opportunity to put their own unique stamp to tunes they didn’t write but enjoy performing nonetheless. Of the nine songs on the new release, seven are covers (some quite obscure) of songs the band has been playing live for some time. Yet, all are performed in the celebrated HWB style which will be immediately recognizable to long-term fans.
Recorded in the windy city, Made in Chicago is aptly titled. But it’s also apropos because Chicago, a city steeped in blues history, is where the band have honed their chops almost since their inception in 1988. Howard & the White Boys have established a reputation as one of the city’s favorite attractions and regular appearances at Buddy Guy’s Legends has afforded them an opportunity to display their wares before locals and out-of-towners who come to Legends to hear the best the city has to offer in blues entertainment. Indeed, Buddy Guy has been their unofficial mentor. Guy’s support for the band has been instrumental in exposing them to a wider audience. In 1995, he took them on a major Midwestern tour as his opening act, and he often jumps onstage to jam with them when they appear at Legends. He also gave them the ultimate endorsement by making a rare guest appearance on their 1999 release The Big $core. He plays some scorching guitar and sings a duet with Howard on a remake of the Sam & Dave classic “I
The members of Howard & the White Boys first met at Northern Illinois University in Dekalb in 1988 and began jamming together just for fun, but their fast-growing popularity soon convinced them they could make a career of it. After only a few months, they got their first big break by opening for B.B. King. The band soon made the move to Chicago and began performing with the biggest names in blues: Koko Taylor, Albert King, Junior Wells, Lonnie Brooks, Luther Allison, Bo Diddley, and Chuck Berry.
Between 1994 and 1997, the group made two highly acclaimed recordings, Strung Out On The Blues and Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?, for Los Angeles based Mighty Tiger Records. They began traveling extensively across the United States and their growing popularity captured the attention of Philadelphia based Evidence Records. The Big $core was the first of two successful discs released by Evidence, and the band wasted no time in promoting it via the first of many trips to European countries such as Belgium, France, Italy, Holland, Switzerland, Norway, Germany, Luxembourg, and England. Riding the ever-growing wave of popularity both at home and abroad, the group then released a well-received live CD for Evidence entitled Live At Chord On Blues in 2000.
In 2004, long time band members Howard McCullum, Rocco Calipari, and Jim Christopulos were joined by 26 year old guitarist Pete Galanis. Galanis’ tight blues chops—coupled with his natural versatility at handling the funk, R & B, and rock styles that have become Howard & the White Boys trademarks—have magnificently slotted right in with the group’s signature sound and have also lent it an exciting, youthful exuberance, readily apparent on Made in Chicago. The band is now focusing on touring to support the new CD and working on material for their next one.
HOWARD AND THE WHITE BOYS BLUES FROM MONT TREMBLANT JULY 17-09