Every year at The Edmonton Blues Festival we try to do what festivals can do like no other event. Put together a like minded group of musicians and ask them to do what they do best…have some fun and share the music they love with you. This year we present Mark Hummel’s Chicago Blues Party. It’s a Revue of contemporary Chicago blues, deeply rooted in the tradition; featuring some of the best out of the Windy City and area.
With 2 accomplished and compelling vocalists; a pair of tasty guitarists, one of the best harp players on the scene today and a backing rhythm section with over 80 years combined experience, this blues party will make you wanna holler!
Let’s take a look at the players…
Joe Beard was born on January 4, 1938 in Ashland, Mississippi. Surrounded by aspiring and veteran blues musicians including Matt ‘Guitar’ Murphy and his brother Floyd Murphy who were Beard’s childhood buddies and the ones who initially got him started on guitar.
Beard moved to Rochester, New York in the mid – 1950’s and from time to time would visit his brothers in Chicago. He became enamored with the blues being played there and eventually sat in with both John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters. In Rochester he formed the Soul Brothers Six playing bass and singing. He wouldn’t perform on guitar in public until 1965. It was in Rochester where he met Son House, the man who taught Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters how to play. For most of the ’60’s and through the ’80’s Beard worked as an electrician by day and would occasionally play at night and on weekends. He toured European countries in the 1980’s and regularly worked with Lafayette Leake and Memphis Slim. At the famed BK Lounge, Beard and his support bands opened up for Bobby Bland, Albert King, and others. Beard performed for President George H.W. Bush’s inaugural gala in 2000.
Beard recorded an album with Ronnie Earl’s band for the California-based AudioQuest label, Blues Union. The album was a critical success, earning Offbeat Magazine’s Blues Album of the year award. He followed it up with 1998’s For Real and 2000’s Dealin’, both records featuring Duke Robillard.
Deitra Farr is one of the most popular blues women out of the Windy City, a real showstopper, and a major attraction in Europe. She came up with guidance from Erwin Helfer, Steve Freund, Sunnyland Slim, Mississippi Heat, Louis Myers, MAC Thompson, and Otis Rush amongst others. Deitra recently won the prestigious Koko Taylor “Jus Blues” Award, plus a spot in the Chicago Hall Of Fame.
Oscar Wilson was born on the Southside of Chicago, rumored to have been a bluesman’s son. Oscar came up as kid hanging out with Big Smokey Smothers & Honeyboy Edwards. A natural singer who always had an affinity for the blues, he grew up singing & listening to everything from Soul, R & B to rock. 15 years ago Oscar teamed up with harp blower Joe Nosek to form the Cash Box Kings, a traditional blues band in Chicago. After the release of the bands fourth CD on Alligator Records in 2018, their career has exploded, playing festivals worldwide. Oscar is one of the greatest vocalists to have come along in years, in any genre. Oscar has been to The Edmonton Blues Festival twice before; with the Cash Box Kings and as part of another blues revue in 2016.
Billy Flynn hails from Green Bay, WS, where he was exposed to Chicago Blues as a teen in the early 1970s. Jimmy Dawkins was his first mentor & took the young guitarist under his wing. Billy is known worldwide, for his deep blues, knowledge, and prowess on guitar, harmonica, mandolin & bass. As a guitarist Flynn is unparalleled in blues. Billy’s resume on record & on the road is a who’s who of blues legends-Otis Rush, Jimmy Rogers, Legendary Blues Band (from 1985-2000), Jimmy Dawkins, Kim Wilson, Billy Boy Arnold, Pinetop Perkins, Dietra Farr, Cash Box Kings, Billy Branch, Jerry Portnoy, Jody Williams, Mark Hummel, Charlie Musselwhite, Lurrie Bell plus half the Delmark catalog. Billy’s one of the busiest guys in Chicago.
Harmonica man/singer/songwriter/bandleader/author/impresario Mark Hummel was born in New Haven, CT but moved to Los Angeles as a newborn. Hummel took up an interest in blues harp & rock-blues music in high school but soon discovered the originators like Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson & Little Walter. Hummel moved to Berkeley in 1973, due to the robust blues scene there, and started to perform regularly. In 1976 he formed The Blues Survivors with Johnny Waters and JJ Bad Boy Jones. JJ left in 1977 and was replaced by Sonny Lane. This band lasted till 1981, when Hummel would go full time with music. By 1985 Mark Hummel’s Blues Survivors hit the road full time and he hasn’t looked back. Hummel has dozens of album credits to his name including the 2014 Blind Pig release “REMEMBERING LITTLE WALTER”. That recording was nominated for a Grammy Award and won two Blues Music Awards.
Rounding out the GOLDEN STATE-LONE STAR BLUES REVUE are RW GRIGSBY on bass & famed Austin, Texas drummer WES STARR (Anson And The Rockets). Between these two old Rome, GA natives, they’ve played with a who’s who of famed musicians – Omar & the Howlers, Jr. Brown, Jimmy Vaughan, Asleep At The Wheel, Gary Primich, Kim Wilson, Mike Morgan, Carlene Carter, Hal Ketchum, Earl King, James Cotton& many more!
It’s a blues party you won’t want to miss, closing Friday at the 21st annual Edmonton Blues Festival.