Harmonica ace Charlie Musselwhite falls between the more obvious generations of blues players, younger than its elder statesmen but considerably senior to young hot-shots like Jonny Lang and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. How, then, can he find a fresh hook to his music without resorting to attention-grabbing gimmicks? Except for two songs featuring producer/guitarist Cesar Rosas of Los Lobos, Charlie Musselwhite's 1997 album, Rough News, doesn't have any famous guests, but it stands out from the harmonica whiz's long and deep discography nonetheless. Musselwhite has pared down his sound so radically that every instrument has become a rhythm instrument. When these lean, groove-based arrangements are applied to tunes as simple and catchy as "Both Sides of Fence," "I Sat & Cried" and "Natural Born Lover," the results jump at the listener with the bare-basics excitement of early rock & roll.
Charlie Musselwhite continues his prolific four-decade career jumping over to Telarc for his first album of the millennium after spending the '90s recording for Alligator and Virgin. A recap of his formative Memphis roots, Musselwhite receives substantial assistance from guests Robben Ford on guitar (Musselwhite provided Ford with his first gigs when the guitarist was in his late teens), Texas vocalist Kelly Willis, and guitarist/mandolin player Marty Stuart; the last two bring a rootsy, laid back country feel to the album that effectively fuses the swampy C&W, R&B, and blues of Memphis into a cohesive statement. Musselwhite blows unamplified harp on every track, but it's his weathered, understated vocals that infuse these songs with down-home charm. Covers from Jimmy Reed, Los Lobos (the album takes its title from their "One Time One Night"), Ivory Joe Hunter, and Kieran Kane flow beautifully into each other as the artist masterfully blurs the lines between genres.
Charlie Musselwhite takes four different approaches on this Alligator release. On two tracks, he turns to guitar, proving a competent instrumentalist and convincing singer in a vintage Delta style. He also does two gospel numbers backed by the legendary Blind Boys of Alabama, which are heartfelt, but not exactly triumphs. Musselwhite reveals his jazz influence on three tracks, making them entertaining harmonica workouts. But for blues fans, Musselwhite's biting licks and spiraling riffs are best featured on such numbers as "If I Should Have Bad Luck" and "Leaving Blues." Despite the diverse strains, Musselwhite retains credibility throughout while displaying the wide range of sources from which he's forged his distinctive style.
Signature is a typically engaging release from Charlie Musselwhite. The harpist runs through a set of modern blues, complete with jazz and funk overtones – indeed, there are two straight jazz instrumentals, "Catwalk" and "What's New?," which showcase his astonishing technique. Not only is Musselwhite in fine form, his band is tight, soulful, and sympathetic, making Signature a worthwhile listen for most blues fans.
Legendary Charlie Musselwhite backed by his acclaimed kick ass band - rocking' the house! Blues from the Delta - live recorded show from the heart of Blues country - Clarksdale MS. Charlie Musselwhite, more than any other harmonica player of his generation, can rightfully lay claim to inheriting the mantle of many of the great harp players that came before him with music as dark as Mississippi mud or as uplifting as the blue skies of California. In an era when the term legendary gets applied to auto-tuned pop stars, this singular blues harp player, singer, songwriter and guitarist has earned and deserves to be honored as a true master of American classic vernacular music.
Rockin' R&B laced with Chicago blues. An early lineup of the rock-and-soul Dynatones backs up veteran bluesman Charlie Musselwhite in a live set at the Belly Up Tavern in Solano Beach, California from 1982. Curtain Call Cocktails album by Charlie Musselwhite was released Feb 09, 1999 on the Westside label. Original 1982 live album, inc. 4 never before released cuts.
This musical hookup between these two experienced roots artists who have more in common than it seems at first glance, is a natural evolution for both. Ben Harper seemed like an old soul, even when he began his career, dipping into classic R&B, gospel, and blues but spinning them through his dark, folk-funk persona. His work with the Blind Boys of Alabama showed him to be welcomed by veteran artists who clearly felt he was a kindred spirit. Harpist/guitarist Charlie Musselwhite's extensive résumé typically moved him past the often limiting structure of the Chicago blues where he first made his presence felt, to Tex-Mex, Cuban, Americana, swamp rock, country, and even jazz.