Mitch Kashmar is an established West Coast harmonica veteran who has been knocking around for several decades but first made a dent on the international blues scene with his 2005 Delta Groove debut, Nickels & Dimes. As if to make up for lost time, he followed it up a year later with Wake Up and Worry, another solid blast of left coast swinging blues. Ignore the cartoonish and rather garish cover of a groggy Kashmar in a bathrobe surrounded by scantily clad models and dive into the disc for a rollicking jump blues party. Kashmar has a surprisingly compelling and distinctive voice, but it's his astounding harp work that propels this music. Sure, there is plenty of Little Walter's overdriven electrified blowing in his style -- he covers both "Dead Presidents" and Walter's "Up the Line" -- but Kashmar puts his individual stamp on this sizzling music. Blues fans familiar with Little Charlie & the Nightcats will want to own this as well, since Kashmar works comparable territory. The harpist/singer takes a break from his jaunty style for "I'm Sorry," a jazzy R&B ballad with female backing singers and some tasty guitar lines from John Marx. Elsewhere, Rusty Zinn and Junior Watson, two of the finest West Coast guitarists, add their energy and talent to an album that has no low points. Those who remember the late William Clarke will also gravitate toward this as Kashmar works a similar groove and possesses the same combination of nimbleness and attitude that characterized Clarke at his finest. The album's closing instrumental shuffle of "The Waddle" will leave any blues fan impressed with its thick, gooey solos but the entire disc is one of the finest contemporary blues harp albums of the year. If Kashmar can maintain the quality and pace of this output, he should find belated fame as the master of the instrument he obviously is.
Wake Up and Worry Review
by Hal Horowitz