This week we talk to Rocco from the international Touring and Chicago Blues veterans “Howard and the White Boys” about their new release Live at Rosa’s Lounge and the future of the blues.
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Rosa’s Lounge, the most recent offering from Chicago blues veterans Howard & The White Boys, is named after the legendary Chicago club where the band’s new CD was recorded. Captured live on one of those magical nights where the crowd and band feed off of each other’s exuberance and energy, the recording reveals a group at the top of its game and offers insight into why many consider Howard & The White Boys one of the best live contemporary blues acts of the past two decades.
Chicago, a city steeped in blues history, is where the band have honed their chops 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 have 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 and his support for the band has been instrumental in exposing them to a wider audience. He has taken them on several major Midwestern tours as his opening act, and has often jumped 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 third release The Big $core. He plays some scorching guitar and sings a duet with Howard on a remake of the Sam & Dave classic “I ThankYou.” Guy told the L.A. Times, “These guys deserve whatever they get and more. And I tell these guys, ‘If you ain’t gonna do it, you know I will, so don’t let me down now.’ And they haven’t!”
Howard & the White Boys formed 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. Their reputation grew in Chicago and they began performing with the biggest names in blues: Koko Taylor, Otis Rush, 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 three 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, Lithuania, 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 2007, Evidence released the critically acclaimed Made in Chicago which showcased the group’s versatility and encompassed the funk, R & B, and rock styles that have become Howard & the White Boys trademarks.
Rosa’s Lounge bears witness to the power of the group when they perform live, and also lends credence to the Chicago Sun-Times’ recent statement, “You can’t see this high-energy, good time band at a club without leaving with a smile on your face.” The band is now focusing on touring to support the new CD and working on material for their next one.