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May 1997

Johnny Yard Dog Jones
Ain't Gonna Worry Ain't Gonna Worry
Earwig Music Co.
Mark Hummel
Heart of Chicago
Tone-Cool

Blues harp fans will want to pick up on two excellent new releases-Johnny Yard Dog Jones' Ain't Gonna Worry (Earwig 4937; 57:32) and Mark Hummel's Heart Of Chicago (Tone Cool 1158; 55:55). A vital force on the Detroit blues scene for the past 15 years, the 56-year-old Yard Dog tears it up with Motor City gusto alongside his stellar blues crew of pianist Detroit Junior, guitarist Johnny B. Moore, bassist Bernard Reed and drummer Kenny Smith. Possessing a suitably raw voice and a Chicago blues spirit, the Arkansas native bellows ferociously on a batch of originals and two convincing covers, Elmore James' "Cry For Me Baby" and Muddy Waters' "Clouds In My Heart." Guitarist Moore provides some stinging, deep blues licks throughout and serves up some soulful six-string work on "Tribute To Bill Doggett." A superb debut by this largely ignored bluesman who is finally getting his due. Less raw but no less real is Hummel's latest for Tone Cool. A longtime progenitor of the classic raunchy Little Walter harmonica tone, Hummel has injected a jazzy sense of swing and a splash of retro rock 'n' roll into that vintage Chicago blues style in helping to forge what has become known as the West Coast Sound (see also William Clarke and Lil' Charlie & The Nightcats). He is accompanied here by an all-star cast of Windy city blues veterans, including the longtime rhythm tandem of drummer Willie "Big Eyes" Smith and bassist Bob Stroger, veterans of countless sessions over the past 40 years by the likes of Muddy Waters, Jimmy Rogers and Little Walter.

Originally published in May 1997
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