Charlie Musselwhite review…December 24, 2013…

CHARLIE MUSSELWHITE

JUKE JOINT CHAPEL

HENRIETTA RECORDS

BAD BOY–ROLL YOUR MONEYMAKER–AS THE CROW FLIES–GONE TOO LONG–IT AIN’T RIGHT–STRANGE LAND–BLUES OVERTOOK ME–RIVER HIP MAMA–BLUES WHY DO YOU WORRY ME–FEEL IT IN YOUR HEART–I’M GOING HOME–CHRISTO REDENTOR

Charlie Musselwhite is one of the most respected and revered bluesmen on the planet, and he is one of the last living links to a time when guys like Muddy, Junior, both Walters, and Carey Bell, among a host of others, prowled the clubs wherever good blues were played.  His collabo with Ben Harper from this past spring, “Get Up!,” has earned them both a Grammy nomination, and Charlie is back with a full-band album of his own.  It is entitled “Juke Joint Chapel,” and is a live recording from that historic venue at the Shack Up Inn down on Highway 49, in the heart of Clarksdale, MS.

Joining Charlie on this set are Matt Stubbs on guitar, Mike Phillips on bass, and June Core on drums.  The set is fairly evenly-split between Charlie’s originals and some well-chosen covers.  The party starts with the driving shuffle of “Bad Boy,” employing an extensive intro, which Charlie uses to his advantage throughout the set.  “Blues Overtook Me when I was a little child,” plays out as Charlie’s autobiography of sorts, while the chugging boogie of “River Hip Mama” is done in tribute to his good friend, John Lee Hooker.

Several years ago, Charlie spent some time down in South America, and found a way to fuse the blues of Chicago and the Delta with the European and Latin sounds.  (For a classic example of this, do yourself a favor and check out his 1999 recording, “Continental Drifter.”)  The result is the samba vibe of “Feel It n Your Heart,” and the set-closing instrumental, “Cristo Redentor,” translated as “Christ The Redeemer,” and inspired by the statue of Jesus that watches over the harbor in Rio de Janeiro.

We had three favorites, too.  Charlie’s harp work is downright other-worldly on a nine-minute romp of Little Walter’s “It Ain’t Right,” propelled by Matt Stubbs’ guitar work.  Speaking of Matt, he turns in some fine solo work on the stop-time, round-the-clock ribaldry that is Shakey Jake Harris’ “Roll Your Moneymaker!”  And, another cut that employs a Latin feel is one that has strong Memphis roots, Prince Conley’s “I’m Going Home.”

Charlie Musselwhite has won numerous awards and accolades over his 20-something album career, and shows no signs of slowing down.  “Juke Joint Chapel” is a live recording that is as good as it gets, from an artist who prides himself in playing the blues from his heart!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

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