April 27, 2019 7:00 pm
Don’t try to paint him in a corner. Albert Cummings is not just the guitar player or bluesman or singer or songwriter. Though he is a master of all of that, he is so much more. He is the complete package, with an approach to blues and rock that has been described as soulful and explosive.
Cummings first picked up a guitar as a kid and learned some chords from his father, but he switched to the banjo at 12 when he fell in love with bluegrass. It took the early recordings and then a live concert of Stevie Ray Vaughan to send him back to the guitar with renewed fervor.
Cummings began his first band, Swamp Yankee, when he was 27, and his career took an upward trajectory in 1998 when he walked into a Northeast Blues Society open jam and won the right to compete in the International Blues Challenge. By 2000, his debut single “The Long Way” was released to rave reviews and more doors opened. His next break was the chance to work with Double Trouble, the late Stevie Ray Vaughan’s rhythm section. Bassist Tommy Shannon and drummer Chris Layton were so taken with Cumming’s fire and passion that they produced his first solo recording, From the Heart. They also performed on it and it was the first recording either had done since Vaughan’s death. Cummings, who originally picked up the guitar because of the late artist, had come full circle.
The guitar player caught the attention of Blind Pig Records, which produced for Muddy Waters, Jimmy Vivino and Elvin Bishop. His label debut, True to Yourself, established him as a songwriter and singer of note, as well as a great guitar player. Tours and shows with B.B. King, Johnny Winter and Buddy Guy brought him to a larger audience and his 2006 album, Working Man, was said by Billboard to be “the calling card of a star who has arrived.”
In addition to touring, writing and recording, Cummings has given back to the guitar community, releasing an instructional DVD, Working Man Blues Guitar.
Cummings’ 2015 album, Someone Like You, cemented the artist’s reputation among the top in his field. Rick Davis of the Chicago Blues Guide, said that “Albert Cummings keeps raising the bar with each and every new live concert and release of energetic blues music. After listening to this CD, you will be convinced that blues music is still alive and well.”
Alive and well, indeed. You can hear it up close and personal at The Lyric.