Ivy Room, Albany

September 17, 2004
By Maureen Hayes, Da Blues Traveler

Man oh man....it had been awhile and I was really lookin' for some blues after a laborious work week.

I tuned into Cathleen's Lawton's "Crazy 'bout the Blues" show and it got me thru the Richmond Bridge delay with ease.  She is so good. Played some Mark Hummel and how fitting that was.  After some real nice music played by Cathleen, Mark was at the Ivy Room.

Mark Hummel was in top form and the band loose from being on the road for the last five weeks.  They are truly a show band.  Much going on up on stage that stops you dead in your tracks just to watch.

The way Charles Wheal's guitar and Mark's harp interact is just amazing.  The whole band is tight, tight, tight!  It's all about consistency and their shows are consistently great.

Marty Dotson is a sight to see, and hear, on them drums.  Just when you think you've heard it all, he'll throw some mix in there that makes you want to make eye contact with him and give him that thumbs-up, "I hear ya, Marty, I'm with ya and I'm a listenin'"

Steve Wolf is just as solid and consistent as they come on the bass.  A real tight band and there's no cueing here.

Mark Hummel is about one of the best shows we have comin' outta the Bay Area and we are really fortunate to have this act right here in our blues corner of the world.  We are fortunate for all of our great talent and I think we take them for granted.

The highlight was when, in the last set, Mark had some guests sit in.  John Peterson blew some real nice harp.  Another guy, (a Japanese guy who I've seen around playin' some mean guitar.  No, not the Johnny Nitro dude) got up and sang and what an unusual style.  Real fun.  He didn't play guitar on this night because there was some other Japanese guy playin' what would be, some of the best guitar I've heard in awhile.

Sorry about not knowing the names but it wouldn't have helped unless I had them spelled out for me anyway and I was too busy being in awe....

I have to admit that I was skeptical but when he started playin', following along, filling in here and there, backin' the harp and singing without stepping on anyone, very precise and intricate, timing beautiful, I just knew we were in for a treat.  That was just the rhythm parts and then he went into a solo....Aaah man!!!  He ripped it. What a trip.  Very unusual style.  It was a sweet ending to an even sweeter night.

Mark Hummel has just released yet another CD, a live recording.  Haven't picked it up yet.  Need my funds for this next weekend.  San Francisco Blues Festival time.  Never been and can't wait just so I can say I've been there.  Can't resist the line up.  Wish me luck handling the VIP seating.  We don't see eye to eye very well.  Aaah...the haves and the have-nots....

Never a disappointing show from Mark Hummel and his Blues Survivors.  Check them out!  The Ivy Room calendar has a few good blues shows coming up....

Settled into the new schedule, new job, and finally got back on line.  Had a great break and did some much needed refocusing on the family.

I heard from Rolf the other day and he's really roughing it in Hawaii tryin' to make a go of things.  He seems to think it'll pan out.  No music scene and he says it's not even in the cards right now, anyway.  Man....I miss him.  My bluesin' buddy!

I'm headin' to Arizona next month to see my boy and we're plannin' on finally scopin' out the real Arizona.  I said I would skip the blues this time and we'd play tourists for awhile.  Want to hit Grand Canyon, Painted Desert, Cactus Forest, Ruins, ghost towns and all that sorta stuff.  I will miss the HOT Phoenix Blues this time around.  Just maybe I'll squeeze in one show?????

Be back later....

CD PICK OF THE MONTH FROM MO:  Daniel Castro's new LIVE recording. WOW!!!  Wasn't there for it but I feel like I am when I listen to it...Killer!!

...da Blues Traveler