Pearly White

Pearly White
White Hot Blues

Self-produced

By Karen Nugent
March 2007

I must confess, I’d never heard of Pearly White. The press kit that came with his new album only added confusion. He looks black in some photos, white in others. There are no bios or liner notes, and the songs – albeit with some catchy titles like “Chumps In Da’ Trunk” – are unfamiliar.

Then I popped the disc in the CD player. Whoa. Not only did it give me quite a chuckle, I think that’s Pearly wailing away on some, well, white-hot guitar. In fact, every song features excellent guitar solos, and he’s good at more than one style. I heard elements of slide blues, Delta blues, and shuffles, along with hard rock, heavy metal, even Hawaiian slack key.

The first song, “Pearly’s Boogie” has a snappy syncopated piano, with Pearly’s deep baritone voice announcing that he’s ready to party. (“It’s time to get down and dirty.”) The song opens up into a wild guitar solo, with excellent slides. The piano playing gets faster and faster and has a call-and-response big finish.

Next is a slow blues, “I’m an Old Bluesman” which is my favorite track. Once again, there’s superlative guitar licks - very bluesy - answering the vocals, which tell you how Pearly likes to drink a lot of whiskey in lots of honky-tonk bars. (“Don’t like no other music/ I just want to play the blues.”)

Amen.

“Hootchie Mama,” with that slack-key sound, is a plea to his woman to come back home - more or less. At first, Pearly laments: “Big Daddy’s sittin’ here, and Big Daddy’s all alone/ Big Daddy knows you down at the bar, hustling up a gang of fools.”

However, he eventually decides he wants his woman AND her friends, and asks her to bring them home: “That dark brown one, Debbie; and that short cute one, Suzy; and that tall drink of water, Jenny. Yeah, lets have a party.”

The final song, “Shadows Fall,” a slow, ballad, is an ode to bluesmen who have passed on. Although it’s rather bland compared to the rest of the disc, the tune features a fine horn solo that hits such high notes it almost sounds like a harmonica, and again, there’s Pearly’s wailing guitar. At the end of the song, he tips his hat to Jimi Hendrix, Roy Buchanan and Stevie Ray Vaughn.

“Big Bad Wolf,” a funny take on the Little Red Riding Hood story, is a rock song almost reminiscent of an 80s heavy metal band. (Def Leppard, anyone?) It’s a nice change, and great for head boppin’ and dancing.

“Too Hot Too Handle, a real late-night blues club song, has sax, along with Pearly’s fat, screaming guitar sound, although the lyrics are nearly unintelligible (Except for the verse right before the last solo: “Let me slide it in slow.”)

“Shake your Jelly Roll,” is another sax showcase, with some hard-rock sounding guitar.

“Voodoo Chile” is not a version of Voodoo Child. But it is about a devil-baby, with some wah-wah guitar imitating an evil infant’s wail. (“You could tell, his mind, it wasn’t well.”)

“Waxed and Ready” seems to be about his band, and there’s fast, hard-rock-like guitar.

And then there’s “Chumps in Da’ Trunk,” about driving into an unknown city, late at night, in a new car, shiny, (and of course it’s “Pearly White.”) He sees a prostitute smoking a crack pipe, pulls up alongside her and declares: “Pimps in the front, ho’s in the back, chumps in da’ trunk.”

Yup, Pearly’s definitely ready to party. And his record is pure fun.

NOTE: I got an email from Pearly that clears up some of my earlier questions.

He’s white, but has a dark tan - from living on Fort Meyers Beach in Florida. He grew up in Madison, Wis., and started playing guitar at age 6. When he was 14, Hendrix came for a concert. At 17, he heard a friend’s Roy Buchanan album, and was “stunned.” Later that year, Albert King came to town.

Pearly, 52, played in cover bands for a while, but decided original music was his niche. He wrote all of the songs on White Hot Blues, and recorded them in his home studio. And, he played all of the instruments, except the drums!

“When most guys my age are looking to retire soon, I would like to start touring. I have a line up of red hot musicians ready to tour if any label comes calling,” he wrote.

His disc is being played on major blues radio stations in Europe, but right now, it is advertised in the U.S. by word-of-mouth, and only available on his Web site.

www.pearlywhiteband.com

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