Rick Galusha's Pacific St. Blues and Americana

Since inception (1989), Pacific St. Blues & Americana strives to be a discerning voice helping roots fans sift through the mountains of music released every year. We are not for everyone; we want to engage active, critical listeners that hear beyond d'jour. Interviews include: Johnny Winter, Bill Wyman (Rolling Stones), Jerry Wexler, Tommy Shannon & Chris Layton, B.B. King, Dr. John, Robin Trower, Robben Ford, Mato Nanji, Joe Bonamassa, Harry Manx, Sue Foley, Marshall Chess, Billy Lee Riley, Charlie Louvin, Kim Richey, Radney Foster, Eric Johnson, David Clayton Thomas, Al Kooper, Phil Chen (Wired, Blow By Blow), Ian McLagan, Art Neville, Southside Johnny, Miami Steve Van Zant, Nils Lofgren, Bruce Iglauer, Charlie Musselwhite, Studebaker John, Chris Duarte, Smokin' Joe Kubeck, Hamilton Loomis, Peter Karp, Roomful of Blues, James Harman, Hadden Sayers, Malford Milligan, Melvin Taylor, Otis Taylor, Dave Alvin, Coco Montoya, Jimmy Thackery, Marsha Ball, Maria Muldaur, Shelby Lynne, Magic Dick & J. Geils, Lil' Milton, BuddyGuy, Aynsley Lister, Matt Schofield, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Guy Clark, Joe Ely, James Cotton, Robin & Jesse Davey, Hugh Coltman (Hoax), Sean Kelly (Samples), John Entwistle (The Who), Mark Olson (Jayhawks), Walter Wolfman Washington, Anthony Gomes, Bob Malone, Chubby Carrier, Buckwheat Zydeco, Murali Coryell, David Jacob Strain, DeAnna Bogart, Michael Lee Firkins, Guy Davis, Jason Ricci, John Doe, Little Feat, Matt Woods, MikeZito, Peter Buffett, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Corky Siegel, Todd Park Mohr, Watermelon Slim, Magic Slim, Corey Harris,- - - - - - ------------------------Radio archives: http://www.kiwrblues.podomatic.com/. Playlists: http://www.omahablues.com/ Reviews featured in http://www.blueswax.com/. Email: KIWRblues@gmail.com Live online; Sundays 9 a.m. (-6 GMT) http://www.897theriver.com/

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Article & interview with Albert Cummings

Albert CummingsFriday, August 05, 2005


One way or the other Albert Cummings is pounding the floor boards. Hammering away as contracting builder of luxury homes in the Western Massachusetts/ Southern Vermont area or in front of the footlights on blues stages across the country Albert Cummings is a man that knows how to deliver. His first nationally distributed album, 'True to Yourself' on Blind Pig Records has been an immediate lighting rod of accolades reviews or purist pans. "The label feels this album still has legs so we are out trying to build up that national audience" says Cummings.

Like most modern electric blues players Cummings has an appreciation for Hendrix and Stevie Ray. "Everybody wanted to sound like Stevie, not me, I just wanted to cop that feel Jimi was the first but Stevie actually hit the notes better. But like Stevie said, 'I can play it but Jimi wrote it.' " His budding base is going to be more with older rock fans than blues snots; he's got a fiery hot rock guitar sound, the increasingly rare ability to incorporate a tune in his songs, and, as fans of the Playing With Fire concert series fans saw, a stage presence that goes, and goes, and goes. "With most players you can quickly figure out where they hang out on the neck but not Hendrix - it's obvious but he was special and so young."

You learn quickly that most blues acts build a lore around their beginnings; railroad tracks, blues clubs, sneaking in, ancient black teachers. Even his beginnings go against the tired Blues clich├ęs, "I really wasn't interested in the guitar. I'm a fourth generation home builder that grew up loving Bluegrass and playing the five string banjo. It wasn't until I was 28 that I really began to get into the guitar. I saw Stevie at the Orpheum Theatre during the, 'Can't Stand the Weather' tour and that was the end of the banjo." His playing incorporates a high energy, heavy string, Stratocaster sound with a rock n' roll beat and heavy organ influence. Even the themes of his songs tend to avoid worn out stories that other players bring out like a tired crutch. High pitched squeals, ZZ Top-ish bottom ends, and hard luck tales of unrequited love make for an honest faux-suburban blues sound. Yes, its the antithesis of "blues" but it's honest and immediately accessible to anyone that grew up on '70's FM radio.

As Cummings noted when talking about the old masters (Albert King, BB King, Freddie King, Albert Collins & Buddy Guy), "When it comes to the blues, you just can't fake it." And he doesn't: Cummings is clearly more Led Zeppelin than Howlin' Wolf. If there is a linear line for guitar styles with one end being a technical player (Robert Fripp - King Crimson) and the other end being an emotional player (Mato Nanji - Indigenous) Cummings leans hard on playing what's in his heart rather than his head. "There are times when I get so into playing live on stage with the band that I become a member of audience wondering what's coming next. I've literally 'woken-up' at the end of a gig not knowing where I was or what was going on. It's like a trance that transcends anything else." As a local high end builder in Williamstown, Mass., Cummings joined the National Guard in his younger days and trained for Desert Storm. "We were in the armored division: Tanks. We didn't go but it got awful close and we were ready. There's nothing like a Tank!" Cummings is quick to express support for members of today's Armed Forces. So whether it's moving planks of wood, plunking on a wooden guitars or driving tanks through the woods, Cummings is pure middle class America; a self made businessman in pursuit of his musical dream. Yes, his blues is not going to sucker up to snobs but rock fans. the open minded, and modern electric blues fans are going to get "it" right away and as we saw with Cummings Playing With Fire show by the end of the show those fans will be sweaty with big smiles screaming for more. "We play about 100 - 125 shows a year and just got off a tour of the West Coast with B. B. King. It's a constant battle to run the business and be on the road and then we'll play a festival with 7,000 people. Coming off stage you get that shiver and suddenly it all comes back into focus on why we are doing this - it's love baby, love!"

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