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The Blues Foundation's 1999 "Keeping the Blues Alive Award"
Ain't Easy No More
Review Date: November 2009
by Mark E. Gallo
Opening with Ray Charles' "Get On the Right Track," blues harmonica icon Mark Hummel sets the tone for a romp that doesn't let it up. Nicely mixed with originals and well-chosen covers, Hummel and his crackerjack band swing and sway through a strong 13-tune program. Muddy's "She's Got It" follows the opener, giving more credibility to the collective chops of the band. Hummel has grown into a fine vocalist to match his impressive harmonicizing. His songwriting is equally impressive. The classic sounding "I Didn't Need Another Heartache" and, especially, the mambo-flavored "Big Easy (Ain't Easy No More)" are wholly impressive works.
"Jump With You Baby" sounds like a Wynonie Harris tune and is credited to King Taub. This is where Hummel and the fellas shine. A hard swinging West Coast style band, they're wholly absorbed in the style and serve it up saucier than most.
The instrumental burner "Harpoventilating" is a downhill train that just rocks along unstoppably. Followed by his "So Glad," a tune enhanced by Bob Welsh's hot piano, Charles Wheal's superb guitar, and sizzling horns by Mike Rinta (trombone) and Scott Peterson (saxes)
Hummel's take on Little Sonny's classic "Creeper Returns," on which he is accompanied by Marty Dodson (drums) and Steve Wolf (bass) and colored by Welsh's big organ, is superb. Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller)'s "Stop Now Baby" is turned into a swinger by Wheal's slick guitar.
Eddie Boyd is represented by the classic Chicago lines of "You Got to Reap" and the hard blowing "Blues Is Here to Stay." Hummel and company can handle anything that comes their way, and this is about as good as West Coast blues gets.
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