Living The Blues
regard Charlie Musselwhite as a master among blues harmonica players since his
debut in the late ‘60s with Stand Back: Here Comes Charlie Musselwhite’s Southside
Band. That mastery provides the enjoyment on Musselwhite’s latest album, Delta
Hardware (Real World).
Setting the Lets
party! mood with the opening track, Church Is Out, the band
drummer June Core, guitarist Chris Anderson, bassist Randy Bermudez, and
Musselwhite on vocals and trademark harmonica play like theyre in
a small smoky bar at midnight and everyones feeling no pain.
The blues, says Musselwhite, is about getting through hard times
and enjoying the good times. Thats where Im coming from.
But two songs on the album speak to hard times. Black Water deals
with the flood that followed Hurricane Katrina, while Invisible Ones
is about poor people. On this subject, Musselwhite pulls no punches.
This administration is not concerned about poor people. They dont
have money and they dont vote, so who cares? Its a shame that people
have become afraid to speak their minds because this administration is so vengeful.
Its an American right to say what you think!
Ive never said anything before because people come to hear music,
they want to be entertained, not preached to. But I felt I had to say something
because this is awful!
On one track, Town To Town, Musselwhite returns to his first instrument
Ive played guitar on many albums. Often people didnt know it
was me. There wasnt any reason [for me to play on that track] except I just
felt like it. When I first left Memphis and went to Chicago, there were just tons
of guitar players and very few harmonica players. I ended up working as a harmonica
player so I could get work. I dont know that I like one or the other better.
I guess I should say that I like the harmonica because it gave me a career.
Musselwhite has also branched out into film soundtracks with the forthcoming Black
Snake Moan, in which Samuel Jackson plays a blues musician. Of his work on the
score, Musselwhite says: Craig Brewer, the director, would talk about how
he imagined the music would follow the scene. And when he played us a scene, we
played along with it. It was a hell of a lot of fun.
Over the years, Charlie Musselwhite has had his fun and his down times, including
a lengthy struggle with alcoholism. But he sees his work and personal victories
paying off now.
I remember after the Vietnam War there were a lot of veterans that I ran
into who mentioned how they had my first album in Vietnam and how it somehow meant
something to them, it got them through some hard times. Other people that know
I have quit drinking told me how it has helped them to have the courage to face
their own alcoholism and quit. So its real pleasing to me that in some way
I have been able to give people strength and joy too.