The road from Texas to California runs right through T-Bone Walker
, no detours about it. Since Walker packed his guitar and moved there in the 1940's, what is termed as West Coast Blues revolves around a style he defined. Golden State Lone Star Blues Revue
is a blues ensemble founded by harmonica player and singer Mark Hummel, featuring guitarists Anson Funderburgh, and Little Charlie Baty. All respected instrumentalists in their own right, this collaboration is a premium showcase of West Coast Blues.
Hummel has been blowing blues harp on the coast for over forty years, with seventeen records out as leader. Funderburgh hails from Plano, Texas, made his name teaming up with blues harmonica legend Sam Myers, and is considered one of the authentic interpreters of the classic Texas guitar style. Little Charlie Baty rose to prominence with his band The Nightcats, releasing a string of successful albums on the Alligator label. They are anchored on this session by R.W. Grisby on bass, and drummer Wes Starr, two seasoned road veterans who go back to high school playing together.
They open the set with a raucous version of "Midnight Hour," penned by Texan Clarence Gatemouth Brown
, a guitar wizard if there ever was one. The syncopated "Here's My Picture," by Chicago harp man Billy Boy Arnold
, is where Hummel steps up and delivers. Since this was recorded at Greaseland Studios, in San Jose, local organ ace Jim Pugh was recruited for keyboard work. Pugh does some serious organ comping on "Prove It To You," and switches over to piano on "Cool To Be Your Fool," a laid back number penned by Hummel, reminiscent of Charles Brown
, a West Coast legend. Another influential guitarist, Lowell Fulson
, is acknowledged on "Check Yourself," and the cool blues of Mose Allison
are reborn with "Stop This World." Jimmy McCracklin
was a prolific pianist associated with the West Coast sound, "Take A Chance," and "Georgia Slop," are his compositions, both featuring definitive horn charts performed by saxophonists Eric Spaulding and Jack Sanford. "Walking With Mr. Lee," is a harmonica instrumental, and "Detroit Blues," takes it back to the gritty city back east, while "Dim Lights," is all Chicago's South Side. The distant sirens lay the backdrop for "End Of The World," a twelve bar predictor of impending doomsday and chaos, which closes the show.
These guys have been together since 2012, and have polished their repertoire while on the road, the proven method of playing blues. Funderburgh and Caty have led bands fronted by a harmonica playing singer, so they know the dynamics involved, the guitar interplay is tasteful and they give each other room. The spotlight of course will shine on Hummel as vocalist, but he wisely integrates himself in the band for the reliable blues band situation. As this music continues its generational journey, the Golden State Lone Star Blues Revue
represent the contemporary keepers of the flame, assuring the blues will never die.
Midnight Hour; Here’s My Picture; Prove It You; Cool To Be Your Fool;
Check Yourself; Stop this World; take A Chance; Lucky Kewpie Doll;
Pepper Mama; Walking With Mr. Lee; Detroit Blues; Georgia Slop; Dim
Lights; End Of The World.
Mark Hummel: vocals, harmonica; Anson Funderburgh: guitar; Little
Charlie Baty: guitar; R.W. Grigsby: bass; Wes Starr: drums; Jim Pugh:
piano, organ; Eric Spaulding: sax; Jack Sanford: sax.