HoneyBoy Dupree and the Smokehouse Players is a Phoenix-based band that came out of nowhere in 2001 for an upset victory in the Arizona Blues Showdown. Equally surprising is their new self-titled, self-released CD; it is much better than it has a right to be — a pleasant, entertaining mix of originals and well-worn covers. The disc kicks off with a killer show blues, “Anybody Seen My Baby,” with great instrumental work by guitarist Tim Finn (of Cold Shott – see above review). Following is a rollicking version of Willie Dixon’s “300 Pounds of Heavenly Joy” that showcases lead singer Sal Caffarello’s raspy, upfront vocals and a smokin’ organ solo from Patrick McDonald. The slow, late night blues of “Full Moon On Main Street” has a sleazy, back alley feeling to it, highlighted by the mournful wail of Rich Arnold’s saxophone. The vocals of Caffarello (aka HoneyBoy Dupree) are aptly suited for the Wolf number “Howlin’,” punctuated with Robert Turner’s subtle yet tasty harmonica riffs. Turner is also featured predominantly on the swampy “Walking Sin”; he never tries to dominate the band with his solos, yet his work is efficient, always complimenting the other band members’ sounds. Another notable original is the gospel-ish “Coming Home,” on which Caffarello sounds his most inspired; for my money, this cut is the highlight of the album, and is worth hearing over and over … as is the rest of the album. By the time you get to the end of the disc, with the closing slow blues “Need You So Bad,” you’ll be wondering “Who the heck are these guys?” — and trying to search them out. For more info, visit www.honeyboydupree.com.