"I don't always listen to Mark Hummel records, but when I do it's a Harpbreaker."
- Gary Smith
Grammy Award Nominee and Winner of two Blues Music Awards, Mark Hummel started playing harmonica in 1970 and is considered one of the premier blues harmonica players of his generation. Thanks to over thirty recordings since 1985, including the Grammy nominated 2013 release Blind Pig recording Remembering Little Walter (part of the Blues Harmonica Blowout CD series). Mark Hummel's Blues Harmonica Blowout™ started in 1991 and have featured every major legend (Mayall, Musselwhite, Cotton, etc.) on blues harp as well as almost every player of note on the instrument - a who's who of players. Read Full Bio
Mark Hummel Releases Harpbreaker on Electro-Fi Records
Grammy nominated blues harp legend Mark Hummel unleashes an all instrumental harmonica album, and it redefines the scope and beauty of what the instrument is capable of in the right hands. The disc features Mark's hand picked selection of newly recorded, live, previously released and unreleased material. Mark is joined by his stellar band of R.W. Grigsby (bass) and Wes Starr (drums) as well as blues guitar legends Anson Funderburgh, Little Charlie Baty, Chris "Kid" Andersen, and Rusty Zinn. Recorded at Kid Andersen's famed Greaseland Studios in California, as well as Joyride Studio in Chicago. Blues harmonica and guitar aficionados everywhere will be delighted with the high standard of excellence set on Harpbreaker.
When I took up the blues harmonica at 15 years old, I was hooked, lined & sunk! It truly gave me purpose in life at a time when nothing else did. In High School I was a miserable student, hung out with a drug and booze addled crowd & skipped a lot of school. Harp gave me a motivation I’d never had! Once I’d found it, all I did was play-day and night. All things harmonica, all the time. I sought out records that featured the instrument. I’d go to sleep at nights with Little Walter LPs playing with the arm up so it would play over and over. Eventually I’d wake up and turn it off.
One of my reasons for making an all instrumental CD of my harp playing goes back to that era. Back then I ONLY was interested in harmonica as opposed to singing. After a couple years I appreciated the voice as much or more but early on I focused on the instrumentals and instrumental passages of tunes. My favorites were Little Walter, Big Walter Horton, James Cotton, JR Wells, George Harmonica Smith, Sonny Boy “Rice Miller” Williamson, Charlie Musselwhite, Paul Butterfield, Sonny Terry, Magic Dick, Lee Oscar plus many more. I learned every harp instrumental I could of theirs. Sonny Terry I could never duplicate but the rest I had a handle on. When I joined bands in high school I figured out to be a valuable asset you also had to sing a couple, as it was a way to do the songs you wanted to do by fronting the band. I’ve always been known first and foremost as a harp player & then a vocalist but I do love both. But the truth is I feel a bit more free on harp, as it was what drew me into music. The voice is the soul of blues, so it was certain singers that captured me with their voices as well as their playing, but most of those were guitar players, Muddy, Jimmy Rogers and Brownie McGhee in particular. Eventually I fell in love with Little Walter’s voice, though its quality was not smooth as the others, his spirit really shone through. Same with Jimmy Reed. The spirit in blues is that essence.
The Reviews Are In!
"Ya think ya got the blues? Mark Hummel really gives it to you on "Harpbreaker", a delightful assortment of blues harmonica instrumentals that are guaranteed to make harpsters go - "Unbelievable!". Not merely a master of the 10 holes, Mark Hummel's wizardy on the chromatic leaves the listener with no doubt that he can really blow in every position. Hats off to this West Coast blues great for delivering another awesome record that sounds tough as nails."
- Aki Kumar