Mark Hummel 

Blowin' My Horn

Hummel was one of the original Bay Area blues cats, a founding father of the East Bay '70s blues revival. He's still going strong, as this generous 76-minute live CD amply demonstrates. With his current lineup -- Charles Wheal (guitar), Steve Wolf (bass), Marty Dodson (drums) and guest keyboard player Mel Brown -- he simmers through a baker's dozen tracks that feature originals and tasty covers of the classics. "100 Years," a tribute to the style of Jimmy Reed written by Huey Lewis and Roy Rogers, has Hummel alternating between Reed's minimal yelps and his usual full-bodied attack, while Wheal takes off a solo that combines jazzy licks with Reed's country-blues voicing. On "Everything," a slow, despondent original, Hummel shows off his dark sense of humor with a pathetically shaky vocal that catalogues the abuses packed into his sorry bag of woe, while Wheal's guitar weeps and moans in the background and Brown's organ supplies a funereal backdrop. The implied anger simmering beneath the surface breaks out when Hummel takes a blazing solo to close the tune. The set also includes solid rockers like "Lost a Good Man," "I'm Wise," a New Orleans cha-cha that features some sparking piano from Mel Brown. The recording is a bit muddy, and the mix isn't always the best, but it perfectly captures the smoky flavor of a late-night dive, warts and all.

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