During the 1990s, Howard & the White Boys became one of Chicago's favorite local blues bands before slowly expanding their reach beyond the Windy City. The band formed in 1988 while most of the members -- Dan Bellini (guitar/harmonica), Howard McCullum (vocals/bass), Steve Asma (guitar), Jim Christopulos (drums) -- were studying at Northern Illinois University in Dekalb. The band's first break came when they opened for B.B. King. Later, they would perform alongside numerous other blues superstars such as Koko Taylor, Albert King, Junior Wells, Luther Allison, and Bo Diddley. In 1994, Howard & the White Boys released their first recording, Strung Out on the Blues, which the Los Angeles-based Mighty Tiger Records released and which featured mostly songs written by the band.
Around this same time, Howard & the White Boys began appearing regularly at Buddy Guy's Legends, a popular blues club in Chicago. The exposure broadened the band's audience, and before long, Guy embarked on a Midwestern tour with Howard & the White Boys as his opening act. All of the touring began to take a toll on Asma, who left the band to concentrate on academic pursuits. Another guitarist, Rocco Calipari, replaced Asma, and the band began touring extensively throughout the States (later touring Europe). Mighty Tiger released the band's second album in 1997, Guess Who's Coming To Dinner? The album attracted the Philadelphia label Evidence, who signed Howard & the White Boys to a four-album deal and released The Big $core (1999). During this same year, Calipari left the band to spend time with his family. In his place came another guitarist, Giles Corey. Yet he too left the band, and in July 2001, Calipari returned. ~ Jason Birchmeier