Grammy-nominated Mark Hummel brings his harmonica and band to Park City
Golden State/Lone Star Revue play March 15
Grammy Award-nominated blues harmonica player Mark Hummel has fond memories of Utah.
“Salt Lake was the first place I ever played out-of-state,” Hummel said during a telephone to The Park Record from his home in the Bay Area. “It was back in 1982 or something and it was at the Zephyr Club.”
Hummel played a four-night run at the former venue in Salt Lake City. He sold-out three of those shows.
“The guy there, John Fosdick, asked if we were playing other places and gave up all of these names and numbers for places in Colorado and Idaho,” Hummel said. “So, I credit him as getting me on the road.”
Hummel will return to Utah for a one-night show on March 15 at the Egyptian Theatre.
This time around, Hummel will bring his Golden State/Lone Star Revue that features bassist R.W. Grigsby, drummer Wes Starr and guitarist Anson Funderburgh.
“We play a wide range of material, from originals to fairly obscure covers to blues with a jazz twist and some 1950s rock ‘n’ roll,” Hummel said. “We do something what I call Louisiana rockabilly, so it’s a variety of stuff.”
Playing this kind of music has made Hummel a torchbearer of sorts.
“Throughout my career, I have tried to promote this style of music,” he said. “My job has been to talk about Little Walter, Muddy Waters or Otis Rush, and the rest of my idols, because so many people don’t know where this music comes from. They don’t know that each song has its own history and these are long histories.”
The idea for Golden State/Lone Star Revue was to get musicians from California and Texas to play together.
“I started playing with R.W. 10 years ago and he had known Wes since they were teenagers and playing in bands in high school,” Hummel said. “I had met with Wes, and R.W. said he would love to play some gigs with him.”
At that time, guitarist Mike Morgan came on board and the group played some gigs in Texas and Canada.
“I eventually talked with R.W. about getting Anson Funderburgh involved,” Hummel said. “I’d known Anson since the mid-1980s and I hired him on a tour of my Blues Harmonica Blowout in 2002.”
The final piece of the puzzle was guitarist Charlie Baty, known for his bandleading guitar in Little Charlie and the Nightcats.
“Charlie left the group in December after nearly five years, but we’ve added a keyboard player — Chris Burns,” Hummel said. “He’s an incredible keyboardist.”
Hummel believes all the musicians are playing at the same level.
“Everyone has an overall love for music, and we feel this is the best band we’ve all played in,” he said. “That’s cool considering that we’ve all been playing music for more than 40 years.”
The band has placed No. 4 on the Best Of 2016 Living Blues Charts and it’s up for four Blues Music Awards in Memphis: Best Blues Band, Best Traditional Blues Album, Best Harmonica Player & Best Bass Player.
Hummel’s love for the harmonica has been with him since he was an early teen.
“I tried to play guitar at the beginning, but I wasn’t very good compared to all my friends,” he said. “While everyone kind of goofed around on the harmonica in high school, they weren’t really serious like I was.
“I always had a harmonica in my mouth and it was something I was totally taken with and I always wanted to learn more about it.”
Little Walter was a huge influence on the burgeoning harp huffer.
“Out of all the players, he was the most important,” Hummel said. “I used to basically go to sleep as a teen listening to his records, and those records are imprinted in my mind more than anything.”
From a kid listening to records to a Grammy-nominated musician, Hummel feels he’s been on an eventful journey.
“The Grammy nomination was certainly exciting and unexpected, but the thrill is being able to work with people whose records I listened to when I was 13 and 14 years old,” he said. “To stand on stage with James Cotton or Charlie Musselwhite and John Mayall and all of my idols is wild. I mean, I can call them and they’ll answer my calls.”
In 2012, Hummel wrote a memoir, “Big Road Blues: 12 Bars on I-80,” that captures his life on the road.
“Touring is part of the territory as a musician,” he said. “To make a living you travel and play gigs. It’s only when you start calling the motel home, you know you’ve been on the road for quite a while.”
Still, Hummel is looking forward to his show at the Egyptian Theatre.
“I haven’t played Park City or Salt Lake for a long time, so it will be good to get back.”
Blues harmonica player and Grammy nominee Mark Hummel will bring his Golden State/Lone Star Revue to Park City for one night at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 15, at the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St. Tickets range from $19 to $29 and can be purchased by visiting http://www.parkcityshows.com.
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