Charlie Musselwhite - vocals, harmonica, guitar
Recorded in 1998 in Berkeley, California, American blues harpist Charlie Musselwhite proves once again that great music never goes out of style. A real icon of the modern blues scene, Musselwhite has been a staple at blues and jazz festivals around the globe, since he first came to the forefront of that music scene in 1967.
This recording features a rare appearance by Musselwhite performing completely solo. Still, he manages to blow the harmonica, play an electric guitar, and sing through nearly every song. He spends nearly as much time with candid audience banter and tuning his guitar as he does actually playing songs, but there are still some gems here for the true blues aficionado, including "If I Should Have Bad Luck," "Sting-a-ree," and "Christo Redemptor."
Born in 1944 in rural Mississippi along with his contemporary, the late Paul Butterfield, Musselwhite came out of the white San Francisco via Chicago blues scene in the 1960s that also gave us Elvin Bishop and Mike Bloomfield. Musselwhite, a prodigy of the late Sonny Boy Williamson, is considered a leader in the country blues movement, though his focus has always been with electric bands. Although Musselwhite never made the crossover to the larger, more commercial blues-rock scene (as did Bloomfield, Steve Miller, and others), Musselwhite was very much a part of the youth culture movement that became based in San Francisco circa 1967.
Although he is best known as a harmonica player, Musselwhite is also a talented blues guitarist, as demonstrated during this lively performance. He began his career as Memphis Charlie, since his family had moved to Memphis when he was young, and he lived there through his high school years. He worked with singer/pianist Tracy Nelson and blues prodigy John Hammond before forming his own band in 1966. Prior to going professional, he supported himself by running moonshine liquor. Musselwhite learned his trade playing any opening slot blues gig he could find; he's opened for legends such as Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, Big Joe Williams, Howlin' Wolf, Buddy Guy, and many others. He also played with and became a longtime friend of John Lee Hooker.
Once he played the Fillmore West in 1967, Musselwhite never moved back to Chicago, and has spent the last 40-plus years on the road. This recording dates back to the period when Musselwhite had left Chicago's Alligator Records (one of the nation's premier blues labels) for Virgin's Point Blank imprint.
He's released over 20 albums and continues to record and tour today.