Mark Hummel @ Mark Hummel/Deep Basement Shakers
"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
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.
"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
BluesBytes - Bill Mitchell
Noted harmonica ace Mark Hummel lets his harp do most of the heavy lifting on Harpbreaker (Electro Fi Records), an all-instrumental album with the song selection coming from various previously-released albums, unreleased sessions, and a few new cuts. But the listener is also treated to some mighty fine guitar slingers, with a significant array of Hall of Fame caliber players on the album, including Anson Funderburgh, Little Charlie Baty, Billy Flynn, Rusty Zinn, Chris "Kid" Andersen, among others.
The music on Harpbreaker generally has a jazzy/swing feel to it, especially on the live version of Buddy Rich's "Rotten Kid," which gives Charles Wheal a chance to stretch out on guitar and includes a killer drum solo by Marty Dodson. "Walkin' With Mr. Lee" is a New Orleans classic, written and recorded in 1958 by saxophonist Lee Allen, and Hummel does an outstanding job at using his much smaller instrument to the same effect as Allen's iconic tenor sax.
"Cristo Redentor" is a slow number from the 2013 Hustle Is Really On sessions at Andersen's Greaseland studios. We're more familiar with Charlie Musselwhite's version of this number, but Hummel acquits himself well with very nice chromatic harp work. Little Charlie gets to show off on the fast-paced romper "Crazy Legs," a Little Walter original. I love every version of the Horace Silver classic "Senor Blues" that I've heard, and Hummel's version more than meets my expectations as he again shows how well the harmonica fits into a jazz format, making this classic jazz tune his own here. We get to hear more jazz harp on "Glide On," a mid-tempo number with exquisite guitar from Zinn and tasty piano from Chris Burns.
I realize that all-instrumental albums aren't always for everyone, but Harpbreaker does the trick for harmonica buffs, especially if you like hearing the instrument treated like it's part of a big band jazz ensemble. Recommended.
"This is an album that you’ll come back to again and again. Do yourself a good turn and pick this up soon. Hit play, and it won’t be long before a smile breaks out."
- Barry Kerzner, American Blues Scene
"Harpbreaker is a must to own for every blues harp enthusiast."
- Richard Ludmerer, Making a Scene!
"Never a purist, Hummel's new album, the all-instrumental Harpbreaker, explores every aspect of the instrument."
- j.poet, East Bay Express Staff Pick
Mark Hummel’s Annual Blues Harmonica Blowout will be a Southern Harp spectacular featuring Bobby Rush, Kenny Neal, James Harman, Johnny Sansone and the Golden State-Lone Star Revue with Anson Funderburgh. The tour starts Sunday, January 13th at the Triple Door in Seattle, WA.
Bobby Rush is a Grammy and multiple BMA winner who appeared in Take Me to the River, a musical documentary about Memphis/Delta musicians as well as Martin Scorcese’s The Blues documentary. Bobby’s song "Chicken Heads" was recorded in 1970 and became a Chicago Blues standard nationwide. Rush has performed with Elmore James, Earl Hooker, Mavis Staples, Bobby Blue Bland, William Bell, Charlie Musselwhite, Joe Bonamassa, Keb Mo & many more. Rolling Stone Magazine named Rush “King of the Chitlin Circuit.”
Six-time BMA winner/Grammy nominated Kenny Neal hails from Louisiana blues royalty, being one of seven musical children of Harpman Raful Neal. Kenny plays harp & guitar and is a masterful showman. Kenny has recorded for TelArc, Alligator, Blind Pig as well as appearing on Broadway in Mule Bone, where he performed music Taj Mahal set to Langston Hughes’ poetry.
Alabama Harpman /vocalist/songwriting genius/showman supreme James Harman, just released his 30th album FinePrint on Electro-fi this year. He also appears on Billy F Gibbon’s( ZZ Top) new release, Bad Bad Blues. Harman has had some of the all-time great musicians in his bands-Hollywood Fats, Kid Ramos, JR Watson, Gene Taylor, Phil & Dave Alvin and others. Harman is one of the great performers, writers and one unique character in the blues today-very highly regarded.
New Orleans favorite Jumpin' Johnny Sansone has been recording lately with Anders Osborne, North Mississippi Allstars, performing as part of Tab Benoit’s Voice of the Wetlands & appearing/performing in HBO’s Treme! Sansone is a great writer, singer, Harp Blower, Accordionist, guitarist, pianist to name a few talents.
Also appearing is Grammy Nominated/ BMA winner Mark Hummel’s Golden State-Lone Star Revue featuring Anson Funderburgh.
See Tour Dates Page for Up To Date Information.
Mark Hummel @ Mark Hummel/Deep Basement Shakers
Mark Hummel @ Lazy Lester Memorial w/Taj Mahal & others
Mark Hummel @ Lazy Lester Memorial
Mark Hummel @ Poorhouse Bistro
Mark Hummel @ Private Party