Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

MARK HUMMEL

WAYBACK MACHINE

2020-01-17

On this disc Mark Hummel continues his long history of well- done traditional blues. Taking the lead on harmonica and vocals, he has surrounded himself with a number of top-notch bluesmen including Billy Flynn on guitar, the Deep Basement Shakers (Aaron Hammerman on piano and Dave Eagle on percussion), producer Kid Anderson on bass and Joe Beard on guitar and vocals. The resulting 16 tracks hew from the upbeat tale of a man of questionable character,"Flim Flam", to the low-down dirty blues of "So Much Trouble" where Hummel and Flynn trade solos and Hummel laments his sorry state. Indeed, there is plenty of variety in Hummel’s “Wayback Machine.” The acoustic original "Road Dog" finds Hummel tight in the pocket with the band as he recounts his history traveling from club to club with his eye towards home. Of course, like most musicians, he knows that the stay will be temporary. The road dog gives way to the double-entre laden "Play with Your Poodle" where he’d rather stay within reach than take his chances on the road. "Breathtaking Blues" finds the Deep Basement Shakers hard at work with all kinds of percussive flourishes to accompany Hummel’s lead which recalls the classic St. James Infirmary. " Gillum’s Windy Blues" finds everyone except Anderson taking a turn in the spotlight and "Rag Mama Rag" features Hammerman taking a turn at the vocal microphone over an instrumental backdrop that would fit neatly onto a jug band disc. While the last few of his releases have hinted at it, Hummel’s vocals on this effort strongly resemble those of fellow Californian, Rick Estrin of the Nightcats which, of course, is not a bad thing. The disc takes a decided turn towards the delta on the last three cuts which feature Mississippi blues singer and guitarist Joe Beard on the slow grind of "Five Long Years", the acoustic ":Say You Will" and the well-worn A.W. Crudup classic" Mean Old Frisco". While this release is decidedly different than many of his more recent efforts with its light, often acoustic, vibe it is a nice change of pace and a solid contribution to Hummel’s deep and rich catalog of first-rate harmonica blues. SMITTY

review by Mark

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Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

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