"Over the past several decades, California has emerged as the harmonica blues capitol of the country. With the likes of Rod Piazza, Rick Estrin, Bill Clark, James Harmon, Mark Hummel, and Gary Smith, to name just a few, the West Coast has come to dominate the contemporary harmonica blues scene much like Chicago had in the early '50s and '60s.
"Gary Smith started playing harmonica in his hometown of San Jose in the late 1960s. Charlie Musselwhite, who was by then living in the San Francisco Bay Area, was an early teacher and mentor. In 1969, Smith joined his first blues group. The early '70s marked the beginning years of the Gary Smith Blues Band. One of the best of those groups he put together included Alberto Gianquinto on piano, Mike Watson on guitar, and Steve Gomes on bass. This group headlined the San Francisco Blues Festival in 1973. They also toured Chicago and the mid-West that year, resulting in a three-month layover in Chicago, where Smith absorbed firsthand the flourishing Southside club scene.
"In 1974, the Gary Smith Band recorded its first record, an EP on Messaround Records, which quickly became a classic and a collector's item. By then, Smith was devoted to the hard, amplified Little Walter style, but by his own admission, his development of a tone would not be fully realized until much later. 'Rick Estrin helped me a lot,' elaborates Smith. 'Cotton was such an influence on everyone, with that big brassy tone, Rick had long picked up on it and taught me that tongue-blocking style. I was gone after that.'
"Not only has Gary Smith become a master of the harmonica, but he has also become a legend both locally and throughout the blues world, where record collectors covet his 1974 EP as a quintessential harp classic. 'Up The Line' is the kind of blues album we have long waited for Gary Smith to record, reuniting original members Mike Watson and Steve Gomes, augmented by guest appearances by Charlie Musselwhite and Nick Graventies, who performs two gritty originals.
"'Up The Line' is your basic tough, straight ahead blues album, the kind that all harmonica fans love. One thing is for sure, this record is a rocket ride!"
-- Tom Mazzolini, Producer, San Francisco Blues FestivalTop
1. Up The Line
2. Fog Town Swing
4. The Walk
5. Death Of Muddy Waters
6. Rocket Ride
7. I Can't Seem To Shake These Blues
8. You Can't Hurt Me No More
9. Weird Dream
10. Twilight Time
(The song samplings are in .WAV file format for faster downloads and require no special browser plug-ins. Note, however, .WAV files are low-fidelity in nature and do not reflect the actual music quality contained on the CDs and EPs. Allow approximately 30 seconds to download the files.)
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'Blue Bay' 'Up The Line' 'Mostly You' 'Life Is Like That'
'Mississippi to Monterey' 'Dreams Not Forgotten' 'Shard of Truth' 'It's About Time'
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