Mike Hammar has been playing the blues up and down the state of California for the past 25 years. This Oklahoma born Native American was brought up on the blues by his father Mike Hammar, Sr. who introduced him to the music of Lightin' Hopkins, Gatemouth Brown, T-Bone Walker, and BB King. After years of being a sideman, Mike set out to create his own legacy. He put together a hard working blues band in 2001 and swore he would do his best to write, record, and perform his own style of blues. Mike Hammar and his band, The Nails, released their first album "Going Home" in the summer of 2004. Their album has received airplay on American Roots Music Radio in Norway, England, Germany, Belgium, Canada, and on the college radio circuit here in the United States. In 2009, Mike and the band won the prestigious Monterey Bay Blues Festival's Battle of the Blues Bands. They followed that up with the release of their second album "Recipe for the Blues" in the summer of 2010. This sophomore effort presented 12 eclectic blues tunes written and produced by Mike Hammar. One of the songs from this album "This Ain't Goodbye" was nominated for an an Independent Music Award. Blues for the Gulf selected another song from the album, "Before Miss Katrina", to be part of a national multi-artist digitally released album in 2010. Mike's music has been featured on Sirius XM Radio's BB King Bluesville station. Mike and his crew have had the honor of opening for some of the biggest names in modern blues. They continue to make their mark on the California blues scene with well crafted original music and heart felt performances. Mike's band consists of "Harmonica Jim" Pedersen, Sparky Gehres on the bass, Greg Merino on drums, and Allan "B3blues" Carroll on the Hammond organ. This unique blues crew offers a refreshing new feel to a traditional American genre of music. Influenced by many blues styles, their sound is eclectic, enthusiastic, and energetic.
Winners of the Monterey Blues Festival Battle of the Blues Bands 2009
Sparky Gehres - Bio
Sparky Gehres was born and raised in Merced, CA. While attending Our Lady of Mercy, OLM, Elementary and High School, Sparky learned to play guitar. He began in the sixth grade. Listening to top forty radio gave him an appreciation for multiple genres of music, from folk and rock n roll to jazz and swing. Sparky’s older brother started a band with his classmates at OLM HS. They were in need of a bass player. Thus began his journey with four strings. The band had Theresa Leonard on vocals, Mick Founts and James Walsh on guitars, Rob Gehres on guitar and harmonica, and Mark Lang on drums. After high school Gehres joined Mick Founts and Larry Bell in creating a R&B/ blues cover power trio. Later, Sparky was invited to join Steve Johnson and Those BOBtones to handle bass duties for their reunion gigs, after the passing of their original bass player, Marc Blythe. Gehres followed bands/artists Canned Heat, Mike Bloomfield, Elvin Bishop, BB King, Freddie King, Albert King, and Muddy Waters. He also listened to west coast swing. When asked about his influences Sparky stated “I learned bass from listening to Willie Dixon, Larry Taylor, (Canned Heat, Hollywood Flames) Harvey Brooks (Mike Bloomfield, Bob Dylan)and Russell Jackson (BB King).” Sparky Gehres has been the bass player for Mike Hammar and The Nails for over 20 years. You can hear Sparky’s bass work on both of MH&TNs albums “Going Home” and “Recipe for the Blues”.
Greg Merino Drummer of Mike Hammar and The Nails
Greg Merino was born 9/19/1962, Greg was so fortunate. His dad was an outstanding renowned jazz drummer, Rudy Merino. Greg used to come home after school in the late 70s and play on his dad's drums before he got home from work, At dinner time, when Greg was a kid his dad used to always put on his albums. Greg grew up listening to Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, John Coltrane, and Duke Ellington, Greg didn't realize at the time what a treat that was. Merino joined his first original rock band in 1980, The Trash Boys. Band members included Jay Conn, Steve Heath, Jamie Silva, Ed Fiero, Dave Swanson, and Greg on drums. They had great times playing backyard parties, it never failed, when they played Breaking The Law by Judas Priest, the cops always showed up. Greg was also a proud member of the well-known 80's rock band, Nitro. The band consisted of local rock heavies Chris Peatric, Gary Lambert, and John Valoria. Merino ended up putting his drums away for a little while. He started a successful auto detailing business. After buying his first house in 1993, one of the first things he did was pull out his drums and started playing again. He listened to a lot of Steely Dan, Jeff Beck, Pat Travers, and UFO. Some of Merino’s favorite drummers are Tommy Aldridge, Neil Peart, Buddy Rich, and John Bonham. At this time, Stevie Ray Vaughn’s music caught his attention. Greg said “I want to do some of that!” This began his connection to the blues. Greg played in his first blues band, Night Train. He was fortunate to record an album with Night Train and to establish his foundation in the blues. It was at this time that Greg’s playing caught the ear of blues guitarist Mike Hammar. Hammar called Merino to offer him a spot in his newly formed blues band, The band was initially called The Bluzitions. Then, at the encouragement of Greg’s dad, Rudy, the band name was changed to Mike Hammar and The Nails. Greg said “ If it hadn't been for the Hammar I would've just been another middle of the road drummer, playing in my garage. I’m so fortunate to have been able to play such great venues, with the Hammar, Monterey Blues Festival, Sonora Blues Fest, Blues and Bones, and Reno Blues Fest to name a few.” Greg Merino has been with Mike Hammar and The Nails for 23 years As a member of The Nail, he has recorded two original albums and is working on the third one. When asked if he had a statement to add to his biography, Greg said “What a blessing! Thank you Mike. I want to thank everybody for supporting me over the years, even with my challenges I've had such a great life. I have so much to be thankful for, Never stop trying to pursue your dreams.”
Michael Boykin was born and raised surrounded with gospel music and grew up singing in choirs. He
bought his first harmonica in 1967 when he was fronting the RG Rhythm Band with Glenn Sherrill, David George and Tom Souza. After sitting in with the Bobtones in the early ‘80’s when Marc Blythe played bass, he joined the band in the early ‘90’s with Steve Johnson, Sparky Gehres, Billy Taylor, and Brad Barnett. The highlight was going into the New York City Mission Sound Studio to record Steve’s Bluesville album. Steve gave the nickname “The Professor” on the album because Boykin taught high school Physics. Boykin owes a great deal to Carlos del Junco for guidance and example. He loves sharingthe stage with Mike Hammar and the Nails.
Allan “B3 Blues” Carroll grew up in a family of music, with his mother playing classical violin, his dad playing country swing guitar and bass, and his two sisters playing piano. Allan’s mother taught music lessons and led many church choirs, which gave Allan a rich musical start. Allan’s first instrument was trombone, which he began playing in 5th grade and he played in the marching band all the way through his senior year of H.S. and in the college stage band. In his teens Allan also took up guitar and played in bands for youth dances as well as bass with his dad in country swing bands.
Drafted in 1966, Allan returned from Viet Nam with a Purple Heart and Bronze Star from the ‘68 Tet Offensive. After his stint in the service, he began attending college where he studied music, met other musicians and formed some popular local rock bands. At that time, Allan realized there were plenty of guitar players, and he fell in love with the sound of the Hammond organ being used in the music of the 60s & 70s, so he took up Hammond organ.
Allan began renting an organ to Monterey Jazz Festival in 1991, which grew to 3 organs on 3 stages per year. He then started collecting and restoring Hammonds that were destined for the scrap pile. Since then he has rented organs to many venues and festivals around the state. One of the organs he restored was painted a beautiful blue and he had all the famous artists that played the organ autograph it. The organ became so well known in the blues and jazz arena that Allan named his rental business “B3 Blues”, a name that has stuck with him.
Over the years, Allan has played in rock, country, and blues bands, as well as a Christian blues band from Monterey, ca.(BC Blues). He still plays with B.C. Blues at recovery centers, prisons and other functions. Allan joined Mike Hammar and The Nails in March 2005. Discographies includes Hammond credits on B.C. Blues CD 2001, Hammond and vocal harmony on Lost in the Shuffle CD, ‘Shuffle On’ 2004, and Hammond on Mike Hammar and The Nails CD ‘Recipe for the Blues’ 2010.