Archive for January, 2013

The Blues is my favorite musical form. I was reading an interview with Charlie Musselwhite recently. He described his early access to blues music and it was somewhat similar to mine. In 1960 my friends and I were bold enough to bike over to the black section of town where there were bins of records which had seen use on jukeboxes and were marked down. We could afford to try out lots of music we couldn’t find in our downtown record stores. We may have heard Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Bobby Blue Bland and others on stations like WLAC but now we could take them home and play the vinyl right off of them.

My homeboy (Sonoma County) favorite.

My homeboy (Sonoma County) favorite.


But it wasn’t till I got to college that I was able to see some of my blues heroes perform live. During that time I saw John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Reed, and Muddy Waters (featuring James Cotton on harp). I even got to shake hands with Muddy at a pre-show cocktail party, where I later embarrassed myself by accompanying him on air harmonica when he set down to play some blues riffs on the frat house piano. I was too drunk to know whether he was laughing at me or with me and didn’t much care. I was transported. I had no idea at the time that I would be playing passable harp for an R and B combo from 1986 to ’07.

It was during my college years that I first started hearing about a young white harp player named Charlie Musselwhite. I dug him, even bought a couple of his discs but was still partial to the stylings of Sonny Boy williamson, Little Walter, and James Cotton. White blues artists were rare then (60’s) and it was not till after I graduated that I began to hear Paul Butterfield and Corky Siegel on harp, Michael Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop on guitar.

Over the years I have grown to appreciate Charlie’s work more and more. I admire his eclectic inclusive approach to music as indicated in the styles he plays and the cats he chooses to play with. He is just as likely to play Latin or Hawaiian, old timey or avant jazzy. You can also tell that he appreciates a wide range of musical forms and styles when you listen to his weekly radio show on my favorite radio station back home in Sonoma County (KRSH). But enough about me. Let’s hear it from wikipedia:

Charlie Musselwhite (born January 31, 1944) is an American electric blues harmonica player and bandleader, one of the non-black bluesmen who came to prominence in the early 1960s, along with Mike Bloomfield and Paul Butterfield. Though he has often been identified as a “white bluesman”, he claims Native American heritage. Musselwhite was reportedly the inspiration for Dan Aykroyd’s character in the Blues Brothers.

Charles Douglas Musselwhite was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, United States. He has said that he is of Choctaw descent, and he was born in a region originally inhabited by the Choctaw. However, in a 2005 interview, he said his mother had told him he was actually Cherokee.[5]

His family considered it normal to play music, with his father playing guitar and harmonica, his mother playing piano, and a relative who was a one-man band. At the age of three, Musselwhite moved to Memphis, Tennessee. When he was a teenager, Memphis experienced the period when rockabilly, western swing, and electric blues and other forms of African American music were combining to give birth to rock and roll. The period featured Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash, as well as lesser known musicians such as Gus Cannon, Furry Lewis, Will Shade, and Johnny Burnette. Musselwhite supported himself by digging ditches, laying concrete and running moonshine in a 1950 Lincoln automobile. This environment was Musselwhite’s school for music as well as life, and he acquired the nickname “Memphis Charlie.”

In true bluesman fashion, Musselwhite then took off in search of the rumored “big-paying factory jobs” up the “Hillbilly Highway”, the Highway 51 to Chicago, where he continued his education on the South Side, making the acquaintance of even more legends including Lew Soloff, Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, Sonny Boy Williamson, Buddy Guy, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, and Big Walter Horton. Musselwhite immersed himself completely in the musical life, living in the basement of, and occasionally working at Jazz Record Mart (the record store operated by Delmark Records founder Bob Koester) with Big Joe Williams and working as a driver for an exterminator, which allowed him to observe what was happening around the city’s clubs and bars. He spent his time hanging out at the Jazz Record Mart at the corner of State and Grand and the nearby bar, Mr. Joe’s, with the city’s blues musicians, and sitting in with Big Joe Williams and others in the clubs, playing for tips. There he forged a lifelong friendship with John Lee Hooker; though Hooker lived in Detroit, Michigan, the two often visiting each other, and Hooker served as best man at Musselwhite’s third marriage. Gradually Musselwhite became well known around town.

In time, Musselwhite led his own blues band, and, after Elektra Records’ success with Paul Butterfield, he released the legendary Stand Back! Here Comes Charley Musselwhite’s Southside Band album in 1966 on Vanguard Records (as “Charley Musselwhite”), to immediate and great success. He took advantage of the clout this album gave him to move to San Francisco, where, instead of being one of many competing blues acts, he held court as the king of the blues in the exploding countercultural music scene, an exotic and gritty figure to the flower children. Musselwhite even convinced Hooker to move out to California.

Since then, Musselwhite has released over 20 albums, as well as guesting on albums by many other musicians, such as Bonnie Raitt’s Longing in Their Hearts and The Blind Boys of Alabama’s Spirit of the Century, both winners of Grammy awards. He also appeared on Tom Waits’ Mule Variations and INXS’ Suicide Blonde. He himself has won 14 W. C. Handy Awards and six Grammy nominations, as well as Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Monterey Blues Festival and the San Javier Jazz Festival in San Javier, Spain, and the Mississippi Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts.

In 1979, Musselwhite recorded The Harmonica According to Charlie Musselwhite in London for Kicking Mule Records, intended to go with an instructional book; the album itself became so popular that it has been released on CD. In June 2008, Blind Pig Records reissued the album on 180-gram vinyl with new cover art.

Unfortunately, Musselwhite, as with many of his peers, fell into alcoholism, and by his own admission[citation needed], he had never been on stage sober until after he stopped drinking entirely in 1987.

In 1990 Musselwhite signed with Alligator Records, a step that led to a resurgence of his career.

In 1998, Musselwhite appeared in the film Blues Brothers 2000. He provided the harmonica position in the super-ensemble The Louisiana Gator Boys, which also featured many other rhythm and blues legends such as B.B. King, Bo Diddley, Eric Clapton, Koko Taylor, Jimmie Vaughan, Dr. John, and Jack DeJohnette.

Over the years, Musselwhite has branched out in style. His 1999 recording, Continental Drifter, is accompanied by Cuarteto Patria, from Cuba’s Santiago region, the Cuban music analog of the Mississippi Delta. Because of the political differences between Cuba and the United States, the album was recorded in Bergen, Norway, with Musselwhite’s wife ironing out all the details.

Musselwhite believes the key to his musical success was finding a style where he could express himself. He has said, “I only know one tune, and I play it faster or slower, or I change the key, but it’s just the one tune I’ve ever played in my life. It’s all I know.”[8]

His past two albums, Sanctuary and Delta Hardware have both been released on Real World Records.

Musselwhite plays on Tom Waits’1999 album Mule Variations. He can be heard at the beginning of the song “Chocolate Jesus” saying “I love it”. Waits has mentioned that he feels this is his favorite part of the song.[9]

In 2002, he featured on the Bo Diddley tribute album Hey Bo Diddley – A Tribute!, performing the song “Hey Bo Diddley”.

Musselwhite lost both of his elderly parents in December 2005, in separate incidents. His mother, Ruth Maxine Musselwhite, was murdered.[10]

Musselwhite joined the 10th annual Independent Music Awards judging panel to assist independent musicians’ careers.[11][12][13] He was also a judge for the 7th and 9th Independent Music Awards.[14]

Charlie Musselwhite was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2010.

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Yesterday we bid adieu to our three friends whose adventures we shared for the short time of their visit. We are glad that they were able to experience great weather and quite a few interesting activities in a relatively brief time span.

Leslie, Korie, and Susan, all aboard the shuttle to the Aeropuerto de San Jose del Cabo.

Leslie, Korie, and Susan, all aboard the shuttle to the Aeropuerto de San Jose del Cabo.


We were returning to our casa after dropping them off at the bus station when we encountered a typically strange “only in Mexico” sight which I will share with you here.
parts1
Artsy Parts

Artsy Parts


When we arrived back at Casa Fisherrero Gail wanted to find a place to hang the colorful flags our friends had given us in gratitude for our part in the good times that we shared during their stay.
Celebration of Life, which is currently pretty damn good.

Celebration of Life, which is currently pretty damn good.


This morning brought the dawn of a new era, an era without the joy of Las Tres Amigas, but with the coming of Rojo. We will be dog-sitting him for an entire month starting on February 1st. He is a darling boy and a good companion for Aldo. It will also be a new era for my mouth because now I have no more excuses to stand in the way of extensive dental work I have long-planned for (and so far shunned) since it is much more affordable here in Mexico. I hope to return to California with a new found ability to smile in public.
Nice doggie.

Nice doggie.


I hope it’s a good omen that this particular dawn was beautiful. One of the few dawns where the sun was rising and a near full moon could still be seen.
Dead tree at sunrise.

Dead tree at sunrise.


Dead tree wi

Dead tree with moon in branches.

spanish

Draw, Mongrel, Draw.

Draw, Mongrel, Draw.

The Second Todos Santos Music Festival is history, but it’s memory will last, as long as I keep eating well and don’t overdo the cookie thing. Yesterday before the last performances that evening we saw Chuck Prophet at sound check looking uncharacteristically (I hope) like a refugee from Gilligan’s Island.

Has anybody seen Ginger?

Has anybody seen Ginger?

Before we actually went to the town square for the last waltzes of the Festival we joined our friends from home on their rooftop at Ranch Danza del Sol for a sunset dinner. Yummy food and scenery.

It looked like this, looking West.

It looked like this, looking West.


It looked like this facing East

It looked like this facing East

The food was delicious even when it was too dark to see, the test of true deliciousness. With full stomachs we began to doubt our ability to absorb more hedonistic pleasure, but we left our friends (who were also beginning to show the effects of too much fun).

Fortunately the effects are only temporary. (before)

Fortunately the effects are only temporary. (before)


After full recovery, Korie sets out a training meal for tomorrows whale watching activity.

After full recovery, Korie sets out a training meal for tomorrows whale watching activity.

As we proceeded to the town square we contemplated the prospect of getting up at 5:30AM for our rendezvous with cetaceans. We wanted to make sure we saw Torreblanca, but we didn’t know the order of entertainers. What we did know was that after Alejandro Escovedo finished his set we were bone tired and knew we were going to need sleep to recover enough to really enjoy bouncing around in a small panga for a couple of hours, no matter how spiritual the communion with our whale brothers and sisters would be. So we went home and blowsed the peepsites.

This young pedal steel player put down two of the sweetest solos behind Kev'n Kinneys "Going Straight to Hell" that I've heard since the Grand Ole Oprey

This young pedal steel player put down two of the sweetest solos behind Kev’n Kinneys “Going Straight to Hell” that I’ve heard since the Grand Ole Oprey


I apologize for not knowing his name, but I will find out and share his name with you later.

Well day broke and we didn’t so it was on for more fun. We navigated the relatively bumpless road to Fisherman’s Beach and got there in plenty of time for a little sandpiper surf dancing.

Waiting is the hardest part.- T.Petty

Waiting is the hardest part.- T.Petty

We met our captain/host/educator, Lee Sherwood, and the former South African, lifetime man of the sea, took us out for an informative, exhilarating tour of the nautical world inhabited by the migrating humpback and gray whales who come here every year to mate and calf. We saw whales, yes, a whole family and more of both varieties. But to me the details imparted by Senor Sherwood and the beauty of the coastal rock formations are what set this experience apart from other whale watching jaunts we’ve been on. When Lee wasn’t revealing fascinating information about these graceful behemoths, he was helping us spot whales or acquainting us with the history of the area; he even had time to reel in a couple of beauties, his first yellow tail of the season and a handsome young dorado.

dorado

Dorado Rampant

Dorado Subdued

Dorado Subdued

I have a million pictures and I could go on like this for hours but the effort to actually have all this fun and then write about it is telling on me. Aren’t I Mr. Pitiful?

A family of humpbacks. Mommie, Daddie and youngun.

A family of humpbacks. Mommie, Daddie and youngun.

Kong Island

Kong Island

To show you how tired I am, I can hear Kev'n Kinney playing at a private party less than a hundred yards up the hill and I'm too pooped to crash it.

To show you how tired I am, I can hear Kev’n Kinney playing at a private party less than a hundred yards up the hill and I’m too pooped to crash it.

I am a shadow of my former self.
The Shadow2

fumanchu

He was even nice enough to pose for a picture with Gail. Wotta guy!

He was even nice enough to pose for a picture with Gail. Wotta guy!