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Blues Harmonica Blowout Tour Features Harp Superstars


Bluesman Mark Hummel hasn't taken a vacation in years. He's too busy touring and making records. As VOA's Doug Levine tells us, Hummel's also the founder and bandleader of the internationally acclaimed Blues Harmonica Blowout series.

If being a top-notch recording artist for the past 25 years wasn't enough, singer, songwriter and harmonica master Mark Hummel spends much of the year touring with some of the best blues harmonica players in the business.

While the tour's official name is the Blues Harmonica Blowout, club owners from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Fresno, California, advertise it as the "Superstars Of The Blues Harp." Hummel says he had no idea that it would become such a blockbuster event when he launched the series in Northern California 15 years ago.

"It started as just one in Berkeley, the very first one," he said. "And then, the second year I might have done two, and the third year I did maybe four, and the year after that six of them. And when I say more of them I mean I would spread them out around California."

"In the last eight years it's been a lot of real big names," he added. "People like James Cotton, Charlie Musselwhite, Kim Wilson, Snooky Pryor, Sam Meyers, Cary Bell, Cephus and Wiggins, Lazy Lester, Lee Oskar, Jerry Portnoy, all kinds of people."

Despite its demands, the Blues Harmonica Blowout hasn't slowed down Mark Hummel's solo output. In fact, at the height of one of his busiest Blowouts, he released a new CD, "Ain't Easy No More," with his group The Blues Survivors. One song on the album is dedicated to the victims of Hurricane Katrina and the city of New Orleans.

"It affected me big time because I've played New Orleans for 20 years and I have a lot of friends there and I love it," he said. "It's a great town. I've always done a lot of New Orleans songs materially in my show, and so yeah, it affected me big time."

The Blues Harmonica Blowout is already off to a busy start in 2007, with stops in 10 cities in California before heading to the East Coast during the month of March.