Since 1991 Mark Hummel has been both producing & performing at his annual Blues Harmonica Blowout series. These shows have grown to be a much heralded event & continue to draw sellout crowds wherever they appear.
Mark Hummel is a road warrior - a true Blues Survivor. Along the way, he has crafted his own trademark harmonica sound - a subtle combination of tone, phrasing and attack combined with a strong sense of swing.
LEE OSKAR - was born in Copenhagen, Denmark,moved to the States in the late sixties,and along with Eric Burdon, went on to become a founding member of the soul-funk-rock group WAR. Hits like "Lowrider", "World Is A Ghetto", "Spill The Wine", "Me And Baby Brother", and "Slippin Into Darkness" were huge records that got national airplay coast to coast and stayed high up in the charts for months. Oskar's unique approach to harmonica has earned him the distinction of being voted 1976's Instrumentalist Of The Year in three major music publications, Billboard, Cashbox and Record World. Lee went on to start the Lee Oskar Harmonica company in 1983,which is second only to Hohner Harmonicas in popularity and sales.
Willie "Big Eyes" Smith traditional shuffle style has been regarded as the heart and soul of the Chicago blues sound, with Willie laying the beat behind many of the blues classics. After performing with Muddy Waters, Willie Smith established his own niche within the tradition of the Delta Blues Sound by co-founding the Legendary Blues Band with Pinetop Perkins, Louis Myers, Calvin Jones, and Jerry Portnoy. The group was nominated for several Grammy Awards, recorded four critically acclaimed albums on the Ichiban label, backed up Buddy Guy, Howlin' Wolf and Junior Wells, toured with Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton. They played behind Muddy for the soundtrack of the movie The Last Waltz and appeared in the movie The Blues Brothers where they played street musicians backing John Lee Hooker.
Billy Branch has recorded and/or performed with an incredible list of Blues legends including: Muddy Waters, Big Walter Horton, Son Seals, Lonnie Brooks, Koko Taylor, Johnny Winter, and Albert King. In 1990, he appeared with three harp legends: Carey Bell, Junior Wells, and James Cotton on W.C Handy Award winner, Harp Attack! His most recent recordings for the Polygram label are entitled The Blues Keep Following Me Around and Satisfy Me.
Dennis Gruenling is "a leading light among the new generation of harp players" (Blues Revue Magazine). After spending some time in New Orleans in the early 90's, he's been laying down some of the best blues & roots harmonica on the East Coast for 15 years.