30th Blues Harmonica Blowouts lineup
MAGIC DICK, born in 1945 Richard Salwitz in New London, Connecticut, is the original harp man from the J. Geils Band, whose many hits flooded the airwaves during the 1970’s and 1980’s. Chart-toppers like “Freeze Frame”, “Centerfold”, “First I Look at the Purse”, “Must A Got Lost”. “Give It to Me” and Magic Dick’s own “Whammer Jammer” were in the Top Ten off and on for 20 years and made them one of the top bands (along with WAR) that featured harmonica prominently in the frontline. Magic Dick went on to start ‘Bluestime’ with J. Geils after the original band broke up, making two CDs for Rounder Records. Dick is one of the most famed harp blowers on earth, partially because “Whammer Jammer” was played on Armed Forces Radio in Vietnam all through the late’60’s until the war ended. It was the first song most baby boomers tried to learn on harmonica, along with “Room to Move”. In The Rolling Stone Record Guide (1979) music critic Dave Marsh described Magic Dick as possibly “the best white musician to ever play blues harmonica.”
DUKE ROBILLARD Born October 4,1948 is an American guitarist and singer. He founded the band Roomful of Blues in 1967 and was a member of the Fabulous Thunderbirds. Although Robillard is best known as a rock and blues guitarist, he also plays jazz and swing. He played in bands as Mike ‘Honey Bear’ Robillard and worked for the Guild Guitar Company. He spent over a decade leading Roomful of Blues before departing and becoming guitarist and singer with Robert Gordon and later a member of the Legendary Blues Band. He started the Duke Robillard Band in 1981 eventually adopting the name Duke Robillard and the Pleasure Kings, with whom he toured throughout the 1980’s and recorded for Rounder Records. Duke became a member of the Fabulous Thunderbirds in 1990. He formed a duo with Herb Ellis and the swing trio New Guitar Summit with Gerry Beaudoin and Jay Geils. He was briefly guitarist in 2013 touring with Bob Dylan for the Time Out of Mind album. Duke’s newest release on Stony Plain is Blues Bash – Duke Robillard and Friends (both Mark Hummel & Bob Welsh appear).
JOHN NEMETH’s talents have not gone unnoticed and he soon signed a recording contract with Blind Pig Records. His national debut for that label, “Magic Touch” (2007), produced by Anson Funderburgh and featuring Junior Watson on guitar, received an ecstatic response from fans and the media, and he was hailed as the new voice of the blues. Living Blues enthused, “Magic Touch gives hope that the blues will survive.” In 2008 Németh was recruited by Elvin Bishop to do some performances and contribute four vocal tracks to his Grammy-nominated album “The Blues Rolls On.”
Németh released two more albums on the Blind Pig label, “Love Me Tonight” (2009) & “Name The Day (2010), both hitting #6 on the Billboard Blues Chart, and beginning his long string of Blues Music Award (BMA) nominations, numbering 20 at last count. John has also won two Blues Blast Music Awards – Best New Artist Debut Recording and Sean Costello Rising Star Award. John followed up with two independently released live albums in 2012, “Blues Live” and “Soul Live.”
In 2013 John relocated to Memphis, Tennessee, where he teamed up with producer Scott Bomar and his classic Memphis Soul band, the Bo-Keys, to create an album of revisited soul classics, “Memphis Grease” (2014 Blue Corn), which debuted at #4 on the Billboard Blues Chart. John won the 2104 BMA for Best Soul Blues Male Artist, followed by “Memphis Grease” winning Best Soul Blues Album in 2015.
Sugar Ray Norcia is a singer-harp man and also a three time Grammy Nominee whose career kicked into high gear in 1979 when he formed the original Sugar Ray and the Bluetones with guitar giant Ronnie Earl. The band has stayed in very high regard receiving a total of 27 Blues Music Award Nominations which include winning two Blues Music Awards in 2014. They have appeared on over sixty albums. In 2012 Sugar Ray was inducted into the Rhode Island’s Music Hall of Fame. In 2016 Sugar Ray and his band The Bluetones released their CD called “Seeing Is Believing”. Sugar Ray was nominated for an unprecedented seven Blues Music Awards in 2017 including Traditional Blues Male Artist and also the B.B. King Entertainer of the Year! In 2020 Sugar Ray and the Bluetones featuring Little Charlie Baty recorded a new CD/album on Severn Records called “Too Far From The Bar”. This CD was nominated for five Blues Music Awards. In 2021 Sugar Ray and his band won the prestigious Blues Blast Music Award for the Best Blues Band.
MARK HUMMEL Harp Blowout Producer, Grammy nominee/Blues Award winner/author/harp man started playing harmonica in 1970 and has gone on to become one of the premier blues harmonica players of his generation. Hummel has been featured on over thirty recordings since 1985 including the Grammy nominated 2013 Blind Pig release ‘Remembering Little Walter’ (a recording of a Mark Hummel Blues Harmonica Blowout). “Mark Hummel came of age in the early ’70’s at the height of rock and roll, like many of his peers went and bought a harmonica and hasn’t stopped playing since. A specialist in West Coast Blues, he is a seasoned showman who knows more than a thing or two about how to please an audience.” (The New Yorker)
Hummel’s latest CD is Wayback Machine on Electro-Fi. It rated #5 in Roots Music Revue and #20 in Living Blues Magazine for 2020.
Anson Funderburgh is a long-time member of the Golden State – Lone Star Blues Revue guitarist born in 1954 in Plano, Texas where the youngster first picked up the guitar in high school and was hit by the blues bug through Jimmy Reed, and Lightnin’ Hopkins. By 1978 he started Anson and the Rockets with vocalist/harmonica player Darrell Nulisch with the group being signed to Black Top Records a couple years later. In 1986 Nulisch was replaced by Blind Sam Myers who stayed with the group until his death in 2006. Anson and the Rockets went on to win ten Blues Music Awards (formerly known as the W.C. Handy Blues Awards) widely regarded as the highest honor for blues artists in the United States.
AKI KUMAR – Indian-born, San Jose based aka “The Only Bombay Blues Man,” left his home in Mumbai with the intention of working as a software engineer in Silicon Valley. Then he discovered the blues, and his life dramatically changed. Singing and playing harmonica, he steeped himself in the music and became a fixture in the blues clubs throughout Northern California, where he developed a unique, audacious blend of Chicago-style blues which then led to playing retro Bollywood pop mixed with the blues. Aki recorded for Little Village Foundation and received major press and been featured in Variety, NPR plus played major festivals such as Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, San Diego Blues Festival and the Waterfront Blues Festival. Aki performs worldwide now
BOB STROGER – Born in 1930 in Missouri before moving to Chicago in the ’50s, is an American electric blues bass guitarist, singer and songwriter. He has worked with many blues musicians, including Eddie King, Otis Rush, Little Walter, Jimmy Rogers, Eddie Taylor, Eddy Clearwater, Sunnyland Slim, Louisiana Red, Buster Benton, Homesick James, Mississippi Heat, Snooky Pryor, Odie Payne, Fred Below, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, and Billy Davenport. Bob has won two Blues Music Awards in 2011 & 2013. Stroger has appeared in four Blues Documentaries including “Sideman”, a theatrical release as well as being a Grammy winner.
Drummer and Rome , Georgia native Wes Starr has played with a who’s who of famed musicians in Texas (Asleep at the Wheel, Anson Funderburgh and Sam, Delbert McClinton, Marcia Ball, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Omar and the Howlers and Sam Myers) after living in Austin for over 40 years. Wes won a Grammy for a LP with Hal Ketcham, who he played with seven years.