MUSSELWHITE AT ROYCE HALL, UCLA
at Southboundbeat Magazine,
we like to keep track of our old friend, Charlie Musselwhite.
The cool thing about Charlie is his versatility.
Charlie has been onstage with the best in the business at
blues festivals and concerts all over the world.
He has blown the roof off many a nightclub with a small but
stellar band. He has performed unannounced on late night television shows
and stunned audiences big and small with his solo act. Whenever the best in the business need a harmonica player,
they look for Charlie Musselwhite.
So, its no wonder that I caught Charlie last March opening
for Robert Cray and Booker T. Jones at Royce Hall, located on the
campus of UCLA.
But Charlie is full of surprises, and this night was no exception.
Rather than performing solo, Charlie was accompanied on
guitar by Kirk Fletcher. Kirk is a large man who cradles his guitar like a baby and
plays beautifully with a clear, clean sound and a sweet vibrato that
perfectly complimented Charlies soft voice and smooth acoustic
harmonica. Both men
looked as comfortable as if they were playing on a front porch,
instead of a sold out audience of eighteen hundred.
After announcing that there was Blues in the houseI aint
lyin, Charlie opened with one of his classics, The Blues
Overtook Me. The
diverse audience of every age and ethnicity responded. Indeed, the
blues was in the house. If
you harp players out there want to keep score, Charlie only switched
harps twiceboth of them were Lee Oskars.
Before you write in to ask in what keys he played, read on!
The next number, Help Me, Charlie said he first performed in
Chicago in 1966. This
was a great number to do acoustically, with Charlies trademark
Memphis flavor more than apparent.
Okay, guys, Charlie began playing with a Lee Oskar, then
switched to a Hohner Melody Maker.
Are you with me? He then switched to a Hohner Chromonica and finished the tune
with a Lee Oskar! This
explains why I cant seem to play along with Charlie on many of
his recordings. For
more information on Charlies technique and choice of harmonica,
dont ask me! CHARLIES
WEBSITE is full of information of this sort.
Or, you can log on to his question and answers page and ask
Charlie was in a relaxed, pleasant mood that night, obviously having
a good time. After
asking the audience if they were ready for some slow blues, he
proceeded with She May Be Your Woman, a crowd favorite from
his ACE OF HARPS album. With
a wicked twinkle in his eye, Charlie said this was a song about A
woman long ago and far from here.
This is a favorite of Charlies, as well, for it simply
drips with his laconic wit.
Hwy. 51 was next and runs, as Charlie says, From New
Orleans to Memphis up to Chicago.
He couldnt say where it went then because Thats as
far as I ever took it. Charlie
closed his set with his classic She Used to be Beautiful,
which featured a flawless harmony between Charlies harp and Kirk
Its always a pleasure to write about Charlie Musselwhite, but
its even better to see him perform.
I hope you all get that chance real soon and dont forget
to say Hey from Pat Benny.
Then, look out! He may weld that laconic wit on the both of