For bluesman Albert Cummings, music and fame still weekend pursuits

Friday October 26, 2012


It’s not quite a homecoming, as he never really left. But homegrown bluesman Albert Cummings’ show at the Colonial Theatre Saturday should still be a celebration.

The Williamstown native, a fourth-generation builder long established as a crafter of high-end custom homes in the area, is now a decade into his pursuit of a second job -- that of nationally touring bandleader and songwriter.

His last high-profile show in the Berkshires -- another throw-down at the Colonial -- was commemorated as a live album in 2008.

His return, with drummer Warren Grant and bassist Karl Allweier, comes on the heels of the release of his sixth album, "No Regrets," which may yet push his sideline to the next level.

The new effort made a big splash, debuting at number five on Billboard’s blues charts, and number one on the blues chart of the iTunes music store.

"On and on, it’s just starting to take a foothold and get a lot of attention. So it’s very exciting," Cummings says.

Cummings toured Italy in 2011, and is laying the groundwork for a Norway visit early next year. He says he’s eager to put some extra time into the music career, but stresses that his work as a builder is his chief pursuit.

His previous efforts in the blues world have been well received, notably including support from Double Trouble, the rhythm section of the late Stevie Ray Vaughan, but the new album may help solidify a breakthrough.

It’s getting strong reviews, and he’s been covered in national publications like "Guitar World."

The early success of "No Regrets" is

particularly encouraging, he says, because he hasn’t yet hit the road and supported it in earnest.

Though his music -- laced with an earthy, working-man’s flair and lots of high-octane blues riffs -- has by all account reached a high level, it’s still a weekend pursuit for the most part.

"It’s going really well, [but] the key thing with any album is getting out and touring, and I haven’t really been out there touring or playing it," he says, "so I’ve got a lot to look forward to because that’s what really makes things go forward and gets the buzz."

Beyond its promising early reception, the new album is also a breakthrough because Cummings is finally hitting his stride in the studio, he says.

"This is the first album where I was in the studio just as comfortable as I was in my living room. That takes a while to get use to. So everything is growing, and it’s fascinating to watch it and think about where I was when I first started, and what I know now, what a huge difference be tween now and then," Cum mings says.

When he is out on the road, though, he says he’s seen the enthusiasm from fans building. "The farther I get away from the Berkshires the more famous I become," he quips. "When I go out there it’s really exciting to see people lined up on the streets and stuff. It’s like, wow, there’s something going on here. As soon as I get west, start to get out to Ohio and the Midwest, that’s where I’ve always done really well, and California as well."

Artistically, he sees the record as a more fully fledged portrait of where he is now.

"It gives a better painting, uses more colors to show what I’m all about. The blues is on there," he explains, "there’s rock and roll, there’s country, there’s some southern rock. I think everything I’ve ever listened to or done is coming out in that album. I didn’t directly call it a blues album, I just tried to play my music."


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