Mark Hummel – Golden State Blues

Golden State Blues

A great album by a harp virtuoso sums this one up. Mark Hummel is part of that West Coast batch of guys who just have their pulse on the jump-blues and shuffles of another era. He’s a fabulous player; check out the first cut, “Beepin’ On Me,” a showcase for his big sound and killer chops. Actually, you can pretty much say that for every cut on the record. The jazzy “Blue Jimmy” lets him show what he knows. Same with “Stockholm Train” and a hidden track at the end that lets him fly on harp. Mark’s vocals are fun, too. In some respects, he’s reminiscent of Rick Estrin of Little Charlie and the Nightcats. It’s that late-night hipster thing.

There’s some fabulous guitar playing, too. Old friends like Anson Funderburgh and Rusty Zinn get to show off a bit. Funderburgh gets to showcase his dirty sound and nasty vibrato on “Right Back Where I Started.” Zinn and Funderburgh share chores on “Please… ,” an all-star boogie with textbook solos. These two know and understand the music, and every song is better for their appearance.

And I’d be negligent not to mention the work of guitarist Charles Wheal, whose rollicking solo helps the shuffle “Don’t Know What to Do About You” stand out. Same for his work on “I Don’t Know” and “Linda Lu.” On every cut where he’s featured, Wheal proves more than capable of filling the guitar chair.

I love this album. The feel is captured perfectly.

This article originally appeared in VG‘s Feb. ’03 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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