Charlie Musselwhite | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Charlie Musselwhite


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Although harpist Charlie Musselwhite came of musical age during the 60s blues "rediscovery," he'd probably have attained success in any era. Born in Mississippi, Musselwhite grew up in Memphis and came to Chicago in 1962. A list of his early partners reads like a blues hall-of-fame ledger; just about everyone looking for a hot young harmonica man hired him--Robert Nighthawk, Homesick James, Johnny Young, and more. In the late 60s, after he started recording and playing the festival and college circuits, he attained more mainstream celebrity; contemporary listeners may be most familiar with his work from that period. Among aficionados, he's long been respected as the real thing: he fuses the rhythmic and harmonic subtleties acquired from mentors like Louis Myers and Little Walter with the hard-driving, wall-of-sound approach favored by younger harpists. In recent years he's overcome some health problems that threatened to short-circuit his career. His music is surer and stronger than ever, and he's lost none of his trademark hard-cutting blues edge. Sunday, Rosa's, 3420 W. Armitage; 342-0452.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Lou Bouten.

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