Harmonica player, songwriter, and singer Mark Hummel is a practitioner of the West Coast blues style, which typically includes elements of jazz and swing. A seasoned bandleader, Hummel achieved wider recognition through nearly constant touring. Hummel was born in New Haven, Connecticut but raised in Los Angeles, California. He became fascinated with the blues-rock of Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and the Rolling Stones. After seeing songwriter credits on the albums, he began to dig further back into those bands' blues roots. He began playing harmonica in his teens in order to be different from the huge pack of guitar players in his high school. Hummel studied the styles of the Chicago-based players, including James Cotton, Sonny Boy Williamson, Big Walter "Shakey" Horton, and Little Walter Jacobs. Hummel moved to Berkeley, California in 1972 and played with local bluesmen there, including Boogie Jake, Cool Papa, Johnny Waters, and Sonny Lane. After graduating high school, he hitchhiked around the country for three years, making stops in New Orleans, Boston, and Chicago to learn from those cities' top players.