Head Honchos – Bring It On Home
Grooveyard Records – 2018
13 tracks; 55 minutes
The Head Honchos come from Indiana and feature father and son Rocco Calipari (Sr. and Jr.) on guitars, Rocco Sr handling the vocals; Scott Schultz is on drums/backing vocals and bass duties are shared between Roberto Agosto and CC Copeland. Guests include Steve Ball on keys, Phil Smith on percussion, Jo Jo Outlich on harmonica and a two-man horn section of Joe J.B. Brown (sax) and Mitch Goldman (trumpet) add to three tracks. Rocco Sr is the main writer and there are five covers.
The band plays heavy rocking blues and the PR sheet suggests that they will appeal to fans of Johnny Winter, Walter Trout, Chris Duarte and SRV amongst others. Rocco Sr sings in a gruff-toned voice that suits the music well, drummer Scott hits as hard as John Bonham and there is lots of beefy wah-wah as the band blasts through an opening trio of songs that certainly pin back your ears: “Work” is a good example, just under three minutes but all action. The band takes advantage of the twin guitar approach to bring a touch of southern rock on “Come Strong”, with keys adding a lighter feel.
There is some searing slide on “Next To You”, completing an opening run of five originals before a heavy take on “Mean Old World” takes the song a long distance away from T-Bone Walker’s original. But this works pretty well in the context of this set, as Jr’s guitar replies to Sr’s vocals. The band adds some exotic percussion to their version of “Fire On The Bayou” though the chunky guitars remain and mark the Honchos’ version as quite different to the Meters’ original.
The chugging original “Lucky’s Train” adds harmonica and features a wild wah-wah solo; after that tale of dangerous gambling the band cautions us on the demon drink in “Whiskey Devil”, a short cut with the horns adding accents to the chorus. The horns then stick around for two covers: Willie Mitchell’s “That Driving Beat” has some shared DNA with other songs about dance crazes such as “Barefootin’”. Then we hear “99 ½ Won’t Do” which was a hit for Wilson Pickett who co-wrote it with Steve Cropper and Eddie Floyd. The Honchos play it pretty straight with the keys and horns adding to the Memphis feel and the guitar solo staying just on the right side of tasteful.
Don Nix’s “Going Down” is a staple in blues-rock bands’ repertoires and, not surprisingly, the Honchos play it loud and proud with plenty of screaming guitar work. The album closes with original “Soul Free” which has a southern rock approach and, at over seven minutes, provides a good platform for both Roccos to show their paces in Allmans style, arguably the standout track on the album.
Fans of heavy blues-rock will be sure to find something to enjoy here.