Nicknames must be earned, and a veteran bandleader from the Bay Area has paid his dues for this new moniker: “2 Million Mile Mark” Hummel.
Hummel estimated the miles he’s driven from the number of tour vans he’s owned. On Tuesday, the harmonica great will drive from his Castro Valley home to Lake Tahoe.
“That’s a piece of cake,” said Hummel, who will perform as the guest artist with the Buddy Emmer Blues Band residency at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe. The show is from 8 p.m. to midnight, with Hummel taking the stage about 9.
“Buddy is a very versatile guitar player; he covers a lot of territory,” said Hummel, an expert in such things. Hummel fronts the Golden State Lone Star Revue and he will play some songs from that band’s latest album, which received a slew of Blues Music Award nominations in 2017. Those tunes include “Lucky Kewpie Doll,” Detroit Blues” and “Pepper Mama.”
Blues purists appreciate Hummel’s straight-ahead blues style that he’s played since moving to the Bay Area in the early 1970s. He’s presented Harmonica Blues Blowouts with all star players for decades, has released dozens of albums and in 2012 published a book, “Big Road Blues: 12 Bars On I-80.”
Charlie Musselwhite and Tommy Castro, he said, are perhaps the only other bluesmen who have put in as many miles on the road as himself.
Hummel will take his foot off the accelerator a bit this this year, playing mostly on the West Coast. He said he will appear for the seventh-straight year at Squaw Valley’s Bluesdays, on June. 26.
The highlight of summer will be the Mark Hummel Summer Folk Blues Sessions, which will perform a handful of dates, including one at the Harris Center in Folsom. The musicians will include Lazy Lester, Guy Davis, Joe Beard, the trio Howell Devine and 91-year-old singer Barbara Dane, who recorded with Lightnin’ Hopkins, the Chambers Brothers and performed with Louis Armstrong, Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry.
– Tim Parsons