Happy Hour Harmonica Podcast

Charlie Musselwhite interview

November 11, 2020 Neil Warren Season 1 Episode 27
Happy Hour Harmonica Podcast
Charlie Musselwhite interview
Show Notes Chapter Markers

Charlie Musselwhite grew up in Memphis, rubbing shoulders with Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley. Work took him north to Chicago were he discovered the South Side blues scene, where he befriended several legends of the blues harmonica. Sitting in with Muddy Waters got Charlie noticed and he was soon recording his seminal album, Stand Back!

This led him to the West Coast, from where he has recorded over thirty albums, received numerous Grammy nominations, won a Grammy in 2013, been inducted in the Blues Hall of Fame, and appeared in the Blues Brothers 2000 film.

Charlie’s latest album, 100 Years of Blues shows that he still loves the blues just like he did when he first got started.

Select the Chapter Markers tab above to select different sections of the podcast (website version only).

Charlie's website:


Charlie's store:

Seydel tunings:


Website video page:

Jools Holland Hootenay with Cyndi Lauper

Also check out the Spotify Playlist, which contains some of the songs discussed in the podcast:

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Grew up in Memphis, which had great music scene
Used to see Johnny Cash and Elvis around Memphis
Blues guys around Memphis Charlie hung out with
Charlie plays some harmonica on a rack
Charlie started playing harmonica aged 13
Sonny Boy Williamson I was an early influence
Learning guitar helped with Charlie’s harmonica playing
Charlie’s singing
Charlie’s passion to learn music is still going strong
Most of Charlie’s family played an instrument
What Blues music means to Charlie
Moved to Chicago
Charlie was welcomed into Blues scene of Black community
The blues scene in Chicago in the 1960s
Charlie’s got known when sat in with Muddy Waters
The harmonica players Charlie knew around Chicago
Walter Horton and Little Walter playing harmonica in different positions
Charlie spent time learning patterns on harmonica
Used to spend a lot of time with Walter Horton
First recording session
Recordings with Big Walter
First solo album: Stand Back! Here Comes Charley Musselwhite’s South Side Band
Christo Redemptor song
Moved to California
Charlie at forefront of white blues boom?
Memphis Charlie album in 1969
Longevity of Charlie’s recording career
The Harmonica According To Charlie Musselwhite album (and accompanying instruction book)
Knew George Harmonica Smith and plays quite a lot of chromatic
Ace of Harps album, first one on Alligator records and first Grammy nominee
Interested in expanding genres in the blues idiom to his harmonica playing
Continental Drifter album, recorded with a Cuban band
Sanctuary album in 2004
The Well album: girl trapped in well inspired Charlie to give up drinking
Get Up! Album with Ben Harper, which won a Grammy
No Mercy In This Land album with Ben Harper
Charlie’s elderly mother was killed in a burglary
Latest album: 100 Years of Blues
Close friend of John Lee Hooker
Jimmy Reed’s unique sound
Has played with Cyndi Lauper, Tom Waits, Bonnie Raitt
Played theme tune on The Wire TV show: Way Down in The Hole
Has been on the road since for over 50 years
The long list of Charlie’s music awards
Played for President Obama in 2013
Appeared in Blues Brothers 2000. Dan Ackroyd says Elwood is based on Charlie
Charlie has acted in some movies
Has a laid back style of playing
10 minute question
Harmonica of choice
Favourite key of diatonic
Different tunings: likes Circular tuning
Uses Fat Box from Fat Tone company effect pedal to play through PA
Future plans