"Superb, original and compelling....harmonica master Musselwhite sets the standard for blues." Rolling Stone
Harmonica master Charlie Musselwhite's life reads like a classic blues song: born in Mississippi, raised in Memphis and schooled on the South Side of Chicago. A groundbreaking recording artist since the 1960s, Musselwhite continues to create trailblazing music while remaining firmly rooted in the blues. His worldly-wise vocals, rich, melodic harmonica playing and deep country blues guitar work flawlessly accompany his often autobiographical and always memorable original songs. Living Blues says, "Musselwhite's rock-solid vocals creep up and overwhelm you before you know it. He plays magnificent harp with superb dexterity and phrasing. The results are amazing."
He's one of the most revered
blues musicians in the world. The harmonica master,
also a respected singer and songwriter in his own right,
has won countless awards during his legendary career
including induction into the Blues Hall of Fame and
collaborated with innumerable musical giants of the past
50 years including Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Big Joe
Williams, Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, Tom
Waits, Eddie Vedder and the aforementioned Hooker,
just to name to name a few.
Over the last 43 years Musselwhite has released over 30 albums. Three of those - 1990s Ace Of Harps, 1991's Signature and 1993's In My Time - were recorded for Alligator Records and remain among his best-selling titles. Now, Charlie Musselwhite returns to Alligator with The Well. With musical flavors from Mississippi to Memphis to Chicago, The Well is steeped in the music of Charlie's youth - country and city blues as well as rockabilly and gospel - the music that inspired his signature sound. The fresh, new songs speak from his decades of experience, hard living, and his triumph over adversity.
The new Cd Get Up! (2013) featuring Ben Harper with Charlie Musselwhite is a
modern blues classic.
A fan of the harmonica virtuoso since childhood, Harper
begged an introduction to his idol at Australia's Bryon
Bay Blues Festival in 1996. Despite the difference in age
and background, the two hit it off immediately. The next
pivotal moment came at a 1997 session for John Lee
Hooker where they locked in musically, finding a
common language that is seamless and remarkable.
Since then, the two musicians have worked together over
the years, including sessions for Solomon Burke's Don't
Give Up on Me in 2002, on Musselwhite's 2004 Grammy
nominated album Sanctuary; the budding mates teaming
on a version of Harper's "Homeless Child" and on
Harper's own album Both Sides of the Gun in 2006.
Each time Harper and Musselwhite played together it
was lightning in a bottle. The more they played, the
louder Hooker's words echoed.
In the grand but all-too-rare tradition of full-album artist
collaborations, Get Up! (Stax/Concord Music Group)
featuring Ben Harper with Charlie Musselwhite is a
modern blues classic. The release, Harper's 12th studio
album, surveys gospel, roots, country and R&B; the
marriage's fluid chemistry helping his multi-layered
canvas expand as never before.
Musselwhite's personal history is the kind of story a novelist would sell his soul for, but his indomitable spirit is crafted by him alone. Tough times have been a huge part of his life, and have shaped him into a true working-class hero. His fans include young hipsters, Vietnam veterans, convicts, bikers, jazz aficionados, aging hippies and hard-core blues fans. He is a larger-than-life musical legend, writing and singing what he calls, "music from the heart." According to Musselwhite, "It's about the feeling, and about connecting with people. And blues, if it's real blues, is loaded with feeling. And it ain't about technique, either. It's about truth, connecting to the truth and communicating with the people."
Born into a blue collar family in Kosciusko, Mississippi on January 31, 1944 and raised by a single mother, Musselwhite grew up surrounded by blues, hillbilly and gospel music on the radio and outside his front door. His family moved to Memphis, where, as a teenager, he worked as a ditch digger, concrete layer and moonshine runner. Fascinated by the blues, Musselwhite began playing guitar and harmonica. It wasn't easy growing up a poor, white boy in Memphis, even among the rich musical influences the city offered. He felt like an outcast and a stranger (themes that have informed, inspired and haunted his music to this day). As a teen, Musselwhite attended parties hosted by Elvis Presley and hobnobbed with many of the local musicians, including Johnny Cash and Johnny Burnette, but the celebrities young Charlie sought out were Memphis' veteran bluesmen like Furry Lewis, Will Shade and Gus Cannon.
Following the path of so many, Musselwhite moved to Chicago looking for better paying work. While driving an exterminator truck as a day job, Charlie lived on the South Side and hung out in blues clubs at night, developing close friendships with blues icons Little Walter, Big Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, Big Joe Williams, Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. Before long, he was sitting in at clubs with Muddy and others, building an impressive word-of-mouth reputation. Soon after, Charlie was being paid to play in the same South Side neighborhood. Noted blues journalist Dick Shurman says, "The black Chicago blues artists all liked Charlie as a person. They felt that he was one of them - a southern country boy with a deep affinity for the blues."
His first recording, under the name Memphis Charlie, was with Big Walter Horton on the famous Vanguard Records series, Chicago/The Blues/Today!. Signing with Vanguard, Musselwhite (along with Paul Butterfield who was as urban as Charlie was rural) brought the amplified harmonica blues to a new audience of young, white rock and rollers, who discovered that Charlie personified the cool and hip counter-culture icons they admired.
After the release of his first full-length LP - Stand Back! Here Comes Charlie Musselwhite's South Side Band- he was embraced by the growing youth counter-culture and the newly emerging progressive rock FM radio stations, especially on the West Coast. His iconic status established, he relocated to San Francisco, often playing the famed Fillmore Auditorium. Over the years, he has released albums on a variety of labels, ranging from straight blues to music mixing elements of jazz, gospel, Tex-Mex, Cuban and other world music, winning new fans at every turn. He has been touring nationally and internationally for four decades and is among the best-known and best-loved blues musicians in the world.
Musselwhite has guested on numerous recordings, as a featured player with Tom Waits, Eddie Vedder, Ben Harper, John Lee Hooker, Bonnie Raitt, The Blind Boys of Alabama, INXS and most recently Cyndi Lauper. He has shared stages with countless blues and rock musicians. He was inducted into the Blues Foundation's Blues Hall Of Fame in 2010, has been nominated for six Grammy Awards and has won 24 Blues Music Awards. The San Francisco Chronicle says, "Charlie Musselwhite's harmonica playing shows taste, bite, restraint and power. He's one of the best, and as a bluesman, he's as real as they come."
Charlie Musselwhite today is as vital and creative as at any point in his long career. DownBeat calls him, "the undisputed champion of the blues harmonica." In addition to his always-busy schedule, he hosts a weekly radio show, "Charlie's Backroom," on KRSH-FM in Santa Rosa, California (streamed at KRSH.com Sundays at 10:00am PST).
He considers himself a lifelong learner and is constantly perfecting his craft. With The Well, Charlie Musselwhite returns with the strongest, most intimate album of his career - a powerful, personal collection of songs.
Musselwhite's blues, imparting his hard-won knowledge and working class wisdom, are a window into the deep well of his Mississippi soul. official website:www.charliemusselwhite.com/
"Harmonica virtuoso Musselwhite raises the level of
emotional expression on his instrument beyond even the
masters he learned from…the grizzled veteran richly
decorates his music with telling nuance and chiseled detail." - San Francisco Chronicle
"Legendary is an overused term, but it's also the only word
that suits this heavyweight blues harpist." - Time Out New York
"Charlie Musselwhite continues to astonish. Musselwhite
achieves an authoritative deep blues sound through spare
understatement as only a master can." - Off Beat Magazine
"His delivery is as thick as molasses and as warm and rich
as freshly ploughed soil on a Mississippi morning. He draws
from a deep pool of emotion, brings it to life when he plays,
and invites us to jump on in." - BluesWax
"Musselwhite continues to create trailblazing music while
remaining firmly rooted in the blues. His worldly-wise
vocals, rich, melodic harmonica playing and deep country
blues guitar work flawlessly accompany his often
autobiographical and always memorable original songs." - AllAboutJazz.com
"Mr. Harper, a folk and blues singer-songwriter, and Mr.
Musselwhite, the electric blues harmonica veteran, celebrate
the release of "Get Up!" (Stax/Concord), their hot-blooded
collaboration album. The record's pleasantly shambolic spirit
suggests a fortuitous jam session with moments of gospel
elevation," - The New York Times
"Harper finds himself sharing the stage with one of the most
gifted harmonica players in modern day blues, Charlie
Musselwhite. …there isn't a more complete tune than the
gospel-tinged "We Can't End This Way". Here, Musselwhite
outshines his counterpart with a fluttering harmonica that
never steps away from the spotlight," - PopMatters
"Charlie Musselwhite helped hammer out the genre's shape
when it was still red-hot. Now, the harmonica player and
singer has teamed up with a member of the next generation,
Ben Harper, to rekindle some of that blues fire." - The Wall Street Journal
"In Musselwhite [Harper's] found a kindred spirit: an
understated virtuoso able to push past tradition without losing
himself. They've made a set that feels timeless and right on
schedule." - Rolling Stone
"In movies, they talk about chemistry between co-stars. It can
happen in music too. [Harper and Musselwhite] have it with
their timeless, blues-powered 'Get Up!'" - The New York Post
"Ladies and gentlemen…I'm thrilled to present to you the first
great album of 2013: "Get Up!" by Ben Harper w/Charlie
Musselwhite." - No Depression
"When a singer-songwriter (Ben Harper) and a blues legend
(Charlie Musselwhite) put their heads and their hearts together
in the name of a good tune, the resulting tapestry of scales,
shouts, hums, riffs and broken-hearted ruminations is bound to
be a vibrant one, and that's exactly what the pair set out to
celebrate last night at Irving Plaza." - Paste Magazine
STONE BLUES(1968) Vanguard
LOUISIANA FOG (1968) Cherry Red Records
MEMPHIS CHARLIE (1969) ArhoolieRecords
MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE (1969) MCA
TENNESSEE WOMAN (1969) Vanguard
TALKIN' MY TIME (1974) Arhoolie Records
GOIN' BACK DOWN SOUTH (1975) Arhoolie Records
LEAVE THE BLUES TO US (1975) Capitol Records
TIMES GETTING TOUGHER THAN TOUGH (1978) Crystal Clear Records
HARMONICA ACCORDING TO MUSSELWHITE (1979) Kicking Mule Records
CURTAIN CALL COCKTAILS (1982) Westside
TELL ME WHERE HAVE ALL THE GOOD TIMES GONE (1984) Blue Rockit
MELLOW DEE (1986) Crosscut Records
1988 CAMBRIDGE BLUES (1991) Blue Horizon
ACE OF HARPS (1990) Alligator Records
SIGNATURE (1991) Alligator Records
TAKIN' CARE OF BUSINESS (1993) Thunderbolt
IN MY TIME (1993) Alligator Records
THE BLUES NEVER DIE (1994) Vanguard
ROUGH NEWS (1997) Point Blank
HARPIN' ON A RIFF: THE BEST OF CHARLIE MUSSELWHITE (1999)
CONTINENTAL DRIFTER (1999) Harmonica Blues
BEST OF THE VANGUARD YEARS (2000) Vanguard
ONE NIGHT IN AMERICA (2002) Telarc Distribution
LIVE 1986 - UP & DOWN THE HIGHWAY (2003) Sanctuary
SANCTUARY (2004) Real World
DELTA HARDWARE (2006) Real World
ROUGH DRIED: LIVE AT THE TRIPLE DOOR (2009)
THE WELL (2010) Alligator Records
GET UP! BEN HARPER WITH CHARLIE MUSSELWHITE (2013) Stax Records