"Jeff Howell is a 'porch-pickin' fool!!!" Or so says JAM magazine 8\93. The singer-songwriter, guitarist has toured extensively throughout the States, Canada and overseas playing his unique brand of Louisiana acoustic blues and rock and roll. The original styling of his songwriting extends from fat five-piece horns and New Orleans funk on his debut album, "Gimme' A Dollar" (released in 1989) through the imaginative soul of "Blues Junk'' (released in 1993) to the down home acoustic finger-picking of his just released third album "The Tree". This latest effort brings Howell back to the provenance of his musical influences. He explains "All of my early musical deities were acoustic. While all of my friends were into 'The Stones' or 'Black Sabbath' or 'Zeppelin,' I was into Doc Watson, Hank Williams (Sr.) and Jim Croce! I've always loved the ring of acoustic guitars!"
After graduating high school, Howell began honing his performance skills in small (really small!!!) redneck bars around his hometown of Baton Rouge, La. "My first gig ever was for free but, at the end of the night, they didn't have a hat so they passed around a spittoon and I ended up making $8.25 in soggy change."Several months later, he was asked to join "Clutch," a 50's style rock and roll band that traveled some around the states but mostly covered the "Crawfish Circuit" throughout the state of Louisiana. The guys in "Clutch" taught Howell to sing harmony and encouraged him to experiment with other instruments, allowing members to trade off at any time during the show. As "Clutch" began to broaden their horizons, they found a welcome refuge in Orlando, Florida at the nefarious "Inferno" nightclub (half 50's club, half topless bar.) Howell decided that he had found a home.
After five years of "sha-na-nas" and "dip-dip-dips" and "sha-boom sha-booms," he had had enough! He quit the 50's and landed a job in a studio in Orlando and started writing seriously. The years of playing "oldies" and studio experimentation laid an unusual foundation for musical expression. "Howell mines the depths of the music to produce his own eclectic mix." says Mick Rainsford of Blueprint Magazine (UK) 5/96. "His rich and powerful voice being as ideally suited to the blues as it would in a rock orientated setting." Dennis Walkling touts that "Howell is adept at many moods." (Jam Magazine 5/95)Later, Howell took his guitar and original songs to Boston and then Los Angeles for periods of six months and a year respectively. Then he moved back to Orlando and, just for convenience's sake, started playing solo in clubs around town. There, he has built a strong and loyal following and is never at a loss for work. "The formula...finds club owners singing his praises because of solid alcohol sales, and keeps fans coming back." (Orlando Weekly 6/93) in ’95, Jeff recorded and released "Blues Junk", a CD recorded in the now defunct but legendary Kingsnake Studio in Sanford, Fl. The album features musicians ranging from guitarist, Warren King and drummer, Ron "Bird" Foster [formerly with Roy Buchannan]) to the funky "homeboy" New Orleans sax of Charley Brent and CURB/MCA recording artist, Ace Moreland. Followed up by the bass virtuosity of the rockinest jazz dude I've ever met, Danny "Muddy"Walters! And, of course, the "Waffle House" genius of Rick Bailey on keys , organ, guitar and background vocals. And , finally, Jeff Howell on acoustic guitar, harp, lead and background vocals. Later that year, Howell and Rick Bailey (of "Heartattack Diner" and co-producer of his first two albums) completed an acoustic tour England. In June of '96, Jeff signed with Hand To Mouth Records out of Los Angeles. "The Tree" (Howell's l2nd offering but first effort on the new label) takes him full circle to his acoustic roots. Finger picking and alternate tunings have opened a broader scope of songwriting for Jeff. The album ends up being on a plane somewhere between Muddy Waters and David Wilcox. The production is pared down to mostly just acoustic guitar, harp and voice complemented by the haunting fretless bass and spirited piccolo bass of producer Brad Cobb. The album consists of eleven songs including two instrumentals which "...especially highlight Howell's impressive guitar technique." (Andy Burr, Jam Magazine 6/97)
Later, Jeff has had his bizarre songwriting abilities exploited by an unlikely (and often unseemly) assemblage of radio talk show hosts. The program was called "Monsters of the Midday" and was #1 in its time slot, in whatever that category is that advertisers lust after. Howell's capacity on the show is one likened to a "musical Ed McMahon." Says Howell, "Pretty much, all I do is sit around and laugh and towards the end of the show, write and perform a comical song about whatever they're talking about. Which is real easy because all they ever talk about is sex and beer!" The songs themselves have garnered such strong interest from listeners that it has spawned a fourth CD "Blues Dumps" containing seventeen satirical tunes penned by Howell in twenty minutes (or less if needed.)
Also, Jeff's cut of "Way Off In That Jazz" landed on the acoustic blues compilation CD, "Back Porch Blues," just released by Kingsnake Records.In 2001, Jeff released "Gimme' A Dollar" a collection of nine original songs covering his yearly trek to Mardi Gras and his participation in the "Krewe Of Coleen.". The CD is a musical sojourn, that starts from nowhere and brings you to the streets of New Orleans, constantly shifting emotion and sobriety yet savoring the "Joie de Vivre" that Mardi Gras imposes on you. This is where the album begins and continues until you are silently looking at the clean up crews trying to restore the deserted streets to normalcy. But through the fatigue ridden sadness of the drive back to reality, you know, deep down, that you’ll be back next year while mumbling over and over "Gimme’ a dollar."Howell left the Monsters of the Midday radio show in 2005 and has been performing ever since (within a 15 mile radius of Seaworld). He is working on his 4th CD (5th, if you count "Blues Dumps"), recording it all on his computer. He is also writing a book, so, don’t bother him. Thanks