Mark Hummel's Blues Harmonica Blowout promises to be a crash course in American blues — a who's who of blues history and a tribute to the late Little Walter, whose revolutionary approach to the harmonica altered fundamental ideas of what was possible on blues harp.

Mark Hummel's Blues Harmonica Blowout promises to be a crash course in American blues — a who's who of blues history and a tribute to the late Little Walter, whose revolutionary approach to the harmonica altered fundamental ideas of what was possible on blues harp.

This year, Charlie Musselwhite, Curtis Salgado, Billy Boy Arnold and Sugar Ray Norcia join Hummel's show at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, in the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater, 23 S. Central Ave., Medford.

"The lineup is a good aggregation of harp players," Hummel says. "All of them are into Little Walter — big fans. The band's guitar players, Little Charlie Baty and Billy Flynn, also play harp, and drummer June Core has played with Little Charlie and the Nightcats and Musselwhite." Bassist R.W. Grisby rounds out the group.

Many know the history of blues miracle Musselwhite — a Chicago musician who became acquainted with such legendaries as Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, Sonny Boy Williamson, Buddy Guy, Howlin' Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Little Walter and Big Walter Horton, among others. With the success of his 1966 album, "Stand Back! Here Comes Charley Musselwhite's Southside Band" on Vanguard Records (as Charley Musselwhite), Musselwhite moved to the West Coast where he held court as the king of the blues in San Francisco's countercultural music scene.

"We've all done gigs with Musselwhite," Hummel says. Hummel, known for West Coast blues, also is an accomplished Chicago-style blues and Delta blues musician.

Much also is known about Oregon's own blues and soul aficionado Salgado, whose club act inspired the late John Belushi to create The Blues Brothers with Dan Aykroyd. The Portland-based singer and harp player also worked with Roomful of Blues and the Robert Cray Band. After recording a half-dozen independent albums, Salgado signed with Alligator Records last year.

Billy Boy Arnold is a blues artist on the Chicago front.

"Arnold took two music lessons from the original Sonny Boy Williamson, John Lee Williamson," Hummel says. "Another Williamson from Mississippi adopted the name Sonny Boy to get more work after John Lee Williamson was murdered. Back in those days, no one knew what entertainers looked like before they hired them.

"After Williamson's death, most of his songs were adopted by Chicago blues artists, and guys like Little Walter took their style from him.

"But within a couple of years, Walter came up with a sound that was all his own by amplifying the harmonica. He made a lot of hits. 'Juke' in 1952 was the one that broke him out on the national scene. Everyone from Elvis to Etta James recorded that song. Between '52 and '55, Walter had 13 charted hits.

"Little Walter was the game-changer. Muddy Waters was around, and Howlin' Wolf was around on Chess Records. But no one had the hits that Walter had," Hummel says.

Norcia, from Rhode Island, started playing harp in the late '70s with a band called The Bluetones, with guitarist Ronnie Earl.

"Later, Norcia joined Roomful of Blues as a vocalist and stayed with that band for nine years," Hummel says. "He started up The Bluetones again, and he's up for five Blues Music Awards this year for best album, best harp, best songs and a few others.

"He has a big following in New England," Hummel says. "I've toured with him back there, and he always draws a good crowd. He's a fabulous singer and harp player, and he's finally getting some due."

Hummel and his band began the Blues Harmonica Blowout tours in 1991. The shows have become international events at festivals and concert halls.

"Last week, we played at UC Santa Barbara, and we held a workshop," Hummel says. "It's like a historical summit when you get all of us together."

Hummel recorded a new album, "Blue and Lonesome," for this tour. Most of the songs are more obscure tunes by Little Walter. The CD will be available at the show, and it can be found at www.bluebeatmusic.com.

Tickets for the Harmonica Blowout cost $24, $27 and $30, or $17, $20 and $23 for ages 18 and younger. See www.craterian.org, call 541-779-3000 or visit the box office at 16 S. Bartlett St., Medford.