Mark Hummel

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Mark Hummel
Born (1955-12-15) December 15, 1955 (age 59)
New Haven, Connecticut, United States
Genres Blues
Instruments Harmonica, vocals
Years active 1977–present
Labels Flying Fish, Mountain Top Productions, Blind Pig, Tone-Cool, Electro-Fi

Mark Hummel (born December 15, 1955, New Haven, Connecticut) is a Grammy nominated Blues Music Award winning American blues harmonica player, vocalist, songwriter, and long-time bandleader of The Blues Survivors. Since 1991, Hummel has produced the Blues Harmonica Blowout tour, of which he is also a featured performer. The shows have featured blues harmonica players such as James Cotton, Carey Bell, and Charlie Musselwhite. Although he is typically identified as performing West Coast blues, Hummel is also proficient in Delta blues, Chicago blues, swing and jazz styles.



Mark Hummel was born in New Haven, Connecticut, and grew up in Los Angeles, California. Hummel and his family lived for a time in Aliso Village, a housing project in East Los Angeles that was demolished in 1999.[1] As Hummel explains in his forthcoming autobiography, his parents hired Mexican babysitters who often played R&B and soul music on the radio when they cared for him. It was through these babysitters that Hummel was first introduced to black music. Early on, he was also drawn to the music of Jimmy Reed and Slim Harpo.[2] Hummel did not start playing harmonica seriously until high school, and by the age of sixteen he was already playing in bands.[3]


Hummel began working professionally after moving to the San Francisco Bay Area in the early 1970s.[3] A number of jazz and blues artists had already made their mark on Hummel at this point in his early career, including Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Ella Johnson, Lester Young, Jimmy Reed, Little Walter, Muddy Waters, Big Walter Horton, Paul Butterfield, Sonny Boy Williamson II, and Charlie Musselwhite.[3]

Once established in the East Bay in the 1970s, Hummel started performing with Boogie Jake, Sonny Lane, Cool Papa Sadler, and Mississippi Johnny Waters. He formed the Blues Survivors in 1980, and they have been his band ever since.[4] Since its inception the band has featured a number of popular performers before they became household names, such as King of the Hill creator and blues bassist Mike Judge. Other noteworthy members include Jimmy Bott, June Core, Rusty Zinn, Ronnie James, Chris Masterson, Charles Wheal and Joel Foy.[5] Over the years Hummel has also toured or recorded with Sue Foley, Charles Brown, Brownie McGhee, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, Bob Stroger, Dave Myers, Jimmy Pugh, Kid Andersen and Frank "Paris Slim" Goldwasser.[6] Hummel has also toured with Lowell Fulson, Jimmy Rogers, and Eddie Taylor; live recordings from those tours are available on his CD compilation Chicago Blues Party. In addition to playing in blues clubs across the U.S. and throughout Europe, Hummel and the Blues Survivors have performed at the San Francisco Blues Festival, the Sonora Blues Festival, the Chicago Blues Festival, the King Biscuit Blues Festival, and the Monterey Jazz Festival.[7] He has also contributed CD reviews to Blues Wax, an online weekly blues music magazine.[8] Writing in Living Blues, Lee Hildebrand described Hummel's performance at the 1978 San Francisco Blues Festival as one that "epitomized the high musical quality of the entire weekend" festival.[9]

Jerry Portnoy, a blues harmonica player who used to play in Muddy Waters' band, described Hummel as a musician who possesses "tremendous chops and great knowledge, not only of traditional blues harmonica but other music as well - R&B and swing and big-band jazz. He brings a lot to the table when he plays."[10] He appeared on the cover of the August/September 2005 issue of Blues Revue magazine, and in April 2010, Hummel was a guest on the House of Blues Radio Hour, a syndicated weekly radio program hosted by Dan Aykroyd (in character as Elwood Blues).[11]

Hummel is also known for founding the Blues Harmonica Blowout tour, which he has produced regularly since 1991. The tour features a rotating lineup of veteran harmonica players backed by the Blues Survivors. Past tours have included Snooky Pryor, James Cotton, Charlie Musselwhite, Kim Wilson, Jerry Portnoy, Magic Dick, Rod Piazza, Paul DeLay, James Harman, Mitch Kashmar, Huey Lewis and many others.[12] Live recordings from these tours can be found on at least four CD releases from Mountain Top Productions and Electro-Fi Records (see discography below).

Hummel wrote a book about his musical travels for Mountain Top Publishing called Big Road Blues : 12 Bars On I-80 in 2012 that is available as a Kindle book or paperback.

Hummel currently endorses Sonny Jr. harmonica amplifiers, Seydel harmonicas, and Fat Bottom microphones.[13] He is a contributor to David Barrett's[14]

In 2013, Hummel was nominated for a Blues Music Award in the 'Instrumentalist - Harmonica' category.[15]

As of 2012 Hummel toured with a California and Texas aggregation, Golden State-Lone Star Revue, a group that featured Anson Funderburgh and Little Charlie Baty on guitars plus RW Grigsby on bass, and Wes Starr on drums.

In 2014, Blind Pig's Remembering Little Walter album, that Hummel produced and performed on, was nominated for Best Blues CD at the Grammy Awards. It also won two Blues Music Awards for Best Blues CD and Best Traditional Blues CD. In April 2014, ElectroFi Records released Hummel's The Hustle Is Really On. It featured the Golden State-Lone Star Revue as well as Kid Andersen, Sid Morris, Doug James and June Core. The CD made the Living Blues Radio Charts for four months reaching number two.



  • 1976 Boogie Jake (w/ Mark Hummel, harp) "Automobile Blues" b/w "The Boogie Train" (Blues Connoisseur Records)
  • 1979 Bob Kelton (w/ Mark Hummel & The Blues Survivors) "Grandpa Said" b/w "Race Track Blues" (Rhodes-Way Records)
  • 1979 Mississippi Johnny Waters & the Blues Survivors "I'm Wondering Woman" b/w "You Can Look For Me" (Rhodes-Way Records)
  • 1981 Blues Survivors with Mark Hummel "Gotta Make A Change" b/w "Sugar Sweet" (Rockinitus)


  • Mississippi Johnny Waters & The Blues Survivors (Tree Of Hope Records)

As bandleader[edit]

  • 1985 Playin' In Your Town (Rockinitus; w/ Bill Kirchen & Brownie McGhee)
  • 1987 High Steppin' (Double Trouble Records)
  • 1988 Harmonica Party (Double Trouble)
  • 1989 Up & Jumpin' (Rockinitus; w/ Sue Foley & Charles Brown)
  • 1990 Sunny Day Blues (Deluxe Records)
  • 1991 Hard Lovin' 90s (Double Trouble)
  • 1993 Feel Like Rockin' (Flying Fish)
  • 1995 Married to the Blues (Flying Fish)
  • 1996 Heart Of Chicago (Tone-Cool)
  • 1998 Lowdown to Uptown (Tone-Cool)
  • 2002 Golden State Blues (Electro-Fi)
  • 2004 Blowin My Horn (Electro-Fi)
  • 2006 Ain't Easy No More (Electro-Fi)
  • 2010 Retro-Active (Electro-Fi)
  • 2011 Back Porch Music (Mountain Top Productions)
  • 2014 The Hustle Is Really On (Electro-Fi)

Sideman albums[edit]

  • 1978 Various Artists, San Francisco Blues Festival, Vol. 2 (Solid Smoke Records; w/ Charles Houff)
  • 1985 Brownie McGhee, Facts of Life (Blue Rockit)
  • 1997 Blues Across America - The Chicago Scene (Cannonball; w/ Robert Plunkett)
  • 2000 Too Slim & the Taildraggers, King Size Troublemakers (Burnside)
  • 2003 Kid Andersen, Rock Awhile (Blue Soul; w/ Jr. Watson)
  • 2004 Steve Freund & Dave Specter, Is What It Is (Delmark)
  • 2004 Johnny Dyer & Mark Hummel, Rolling Fork Revisited (Mountain Top Productions)
  • 2005 Jimi Bott, Cheap Thrills (RoseLeaf; w/ Luther Tucker)
  • 2009 Various Artists, Chicago Blues Party (Mountain Top Productions)


  • 1990 Blooze & Boogie: Blues Dance Party! (Wax Museum)
  • 1991 Got Harp, If You Want It! (Blue Rockit)
  • 1992 Texas Harmonica Rumble (New Rose)
  • 1997 Blues Harp Greats (Easydisc)
  • 1997 Mean Streets Blues (Biscuits & Blues)
  • 2001 Live at the Boston Blues Festival, Vol. 1 (Blues Trust)
  • 2001 Blues Harp Meltdown, Vol. 1 (Mountain Top Productions)
  • 2002 San Francisco Bay's Best Blues (Raw)
  • 2004 This Is Blues Harmonica (2004)
  • 2005 Blues Harp Meltdown, Vol. 2 (Mountain Top Productions)
  • 2007 Blues Harp Meltdown, Vol. 3 (Mountain Top Productions)
  • 2009 Blues Harmonica Blowout: Still Here and Gone (Electro-Fi)
  • 2013 Remembering Little Walter ( Blind Pig)


  1. ^ "Urban housing success story faces budget ax". SFGate. 2006-02-23. Retrieved 2015-07-11. 
  2. ^ Hummel, Mark. Autobiography. Unpublished Manuscript.
  3. ^ a b c "Mark Hummel & The Blues Survivors". Retrieved 2015-07-11. 
  4. ^ "Mark Hummel & The Blues Survivors". Retrieved 2015-07-11. 
  5. ^ Gatchet, Roger. Review of Odds & Ends. Living Blues. 2010.
  6. ^ "Mark Hummel & The Blues Survivors". Retrieved 2015-07-11. 
  7. ^ "Mark Hummel & The Blues Survivors". Retrieved 2015-07-11. 
  8. ^ "Blueswax". Retrieved 2015-07-11. 
  9. ^ Hildebrand, Lee. "Sixth Annual San Francisco Blues Festival." Living Blues. November/December 1978. 30.
  10. ^ Lee Hildebrand (2006-07-09). "Man And Harmonica". SFGate. Retrieved 2015-07-11. 
  11. ^ [1][dead link]
  12. ^ "Mark Hummel & The Blues Survivors". 1955-03-02. Retrieved 2015-07-11. 
  13. ^ "Mark Hummel & The Blues Survivors". Retrieved 2015-07-11. 
  14. ^ "Lessons". Blues Harmonica. Retrieved 2015-07-11. 
  15. ^ "Blues Music Awards Nominees - 2013 - 34th Blues Music Awards". Retrieved 2013-03-21. 

External links[edit]