Ivy Room, Albany

February 28, 2004
By Maureen Hayes, Da Blues Traveler

Headin' down that corridor, I was looking forward to this night of blues.  I missed Mark Hummel and his Blowout at The Last Day Saloon a couple of months back due to a tantrum by yours truly (no dance floor).  But I made up for that last night at the Ivy Room in Albany.

Mark Hummel is a very gracious host on stage and I really respect that in him.  A true blues scholar, the man knows his blues and is always surrounded by the best.  I just love attending his shows and he blows a harp with real class.  He is lucky to have a band such as these Blues Survivors with none other than The English Gentleman, Sir Charles Wheal on guitar.  How sweet it is.  Sings some real nice Magic Sam too.

Mark and Charles really compliment each other.  I love to listen to the interaction they have going on while playing together.  Charles Wheal has become one of my favorite guitarist.  It's so refreshing.  Crisp and clear.

Steve Wolf on bass.  He does some tricky things, hiding back there in the corner.  I love how he can get that "stand up" sound out of his electric by sticking a rag under the strings.  Sounds real nice on those jumpin' numbers.  Real snappy.

Awww yes.  What a nice surprise to see none other than Paul Revelli on drums. Missed Marty Dotson but who better to fill his spot?!  One of my favorite blues drummers around.

A real nice first set by these guys but we were just getting started....

Yes, some real nice drumming going on all night between Paul Revelli, Kenny "Beady Eyes" Smith and Willy "Big Eyes" Smith.  It was such an honor to be in the presence of such greatness, all these fine musicians.  I bow before thee!  ;)

Pinetop Perkins got up there and sang a couple and YES!, we could hear him just fine.  He wasn't stepped on and the band kept it real low.  Everyone let him sing then they would come up in between.  Very nice.

He is such a sweetie.  He looked great considering all he's been through.  He was just in a accident, before coming out here, after running through train crossing barrier and getting nailed by a train!  The ol' guy is lucky to be alive and I think he's a walking miracle.

After he got done singing, he steps off the stage, I'm standing right there in front, applauding, and he says to me, "There, now I need to go smoke."  A smoke well deserved, he shuffled off to the front.

Only in the Bay Area!  I just love our blues scene.

Got to see Willy "Big Eyes" Smith blow some harp!  A first for me.  I just love his singing too.  I was just standing there in front, mouth hanging open, looking at this sight of Pinetop, Willy and Bob Stroger, all in corner just a doin' their thing. Incredible sight!

I'm sorry but that one beat the sighting of Carlos Santana and Buddy Guy the other night at The Warfield.  A bunch of nice down-home folk and very approachable.  Yes, that is important to some fans.

Kenny "Beady Eyes" Smith started out on drums while Dad played harp and sang and then it broke into a slow blues.  Willy scooted him out while he was playing and I don't think they missed a beat changing hands!  Kenny slid his way into the old house piano area and commenced to blow us away with real nice fillers, and a couple of solos, that grabbed everyone's attention.  At least the folks that were close enough to hear because I don't think that thing was mic'd up.  I heard it just fine.

Bob Stroger plays a real smooth bass.  I just love his style.  He's a great singer to boot.  Real authentic Chicago Blues here.

Steve Freund got up there and played and sang a few too.  My goodness the chemistry was just magical all night and I could go on and on but I've taken up enough of your sweet time.  I wanted to find Mark and just hug him for this!  I did try in the end.  I just wanted to thank him personally, that's all.  He'll never know what this meant to me.  This is my favorite of all blues and to be surrounded by living legends is this blues fan's dream come true!.  It was an honor to have them visit our blues community.

I know they were playing elsewhere in the area but not anywhere I would could go to dance and feel comfy.  Couldn't think of a better place to be for this show.  What a night and thank you Mark Hummel!  I just love this place and the folks that go there.  Always fun and always Dancin'!

...da Blues Traveler