If you like your blues with a funky groove, Chicago based electric style or with a rock edge, Howard and the White Boys’ first Evidence Records release should satisfy the urge. This project represents the third CD for the four piece band featuring: Howard McCullum fronting vocals and playing bass, Jim Christopulos on drums/percussion, Rocco Calipari and Dan Bellini sharing guitar duties with Bellini doubling on harmonica. The band added Dave Friebolin on keyboards for this outing. Each member of the band had a hand in writing the material with only one cover tune on the CD.
Instrumentally, the band performs solidly with Christopulos and McCullum working well together laying the foundation grooves for Calipari and Bellini to stretch out with their guitar work. Bellini also ably mans the harmonica providing versatility for the band. McCullum passes the test handling all the vocal tracks. Evidence Records has struck again with the willingness to push the boundaries of blues with a rock edge "new age" style.
The material covers a good bit of ground by mixing it up, keeping the album moving. The band is obviously steeped in funk which is quite evident throughout the CD and most notably on the song "Judge." There could be a little more straight ahead blues for those who prefer a bolder connection to the origin of electric blues. However, those that dig the rock approach should give
The Big Score its due. Track 6, "The Last Time," a rock/blues number makes the strongest statement on the album, demonstrating the band’s ability to work very well as a unit. Additionally, Calipari and Bellini both show prowess in the contemporary vein -- these two guys take a legitimate stab at crossing over as noted on track 11 "Bring It On."
A special treat emerges on a cover of Isaac Hayes and David Porter's "I Thank You." Buddy Guy makes a guest appearance providing vocals and guitar in his signature fashion. The rendition is interestingly performed utilizing a rumba groove. For a standard R&B cover it was pulled off rather nicely. It again shows some of the versatility of the band as does the soul selection "Walk Before You Run."
Howard and the White Boys have demonstrated they are in the hunt with their third CD release. Evidence Records continues to put out solid material that pushes the envelope but remains connected to Blues. Enough said, The Big Score is a worthy CD to purchase and Howard and the White Boys deserve your attendance when they tour your town.
This review is copyright © 1999 by Wightman Harris, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.