If only Sam Phillips had said, "If I could find me a white boy who could play harp like Muddy Waters," rock history might've taken a different turn. But rockabilly's loss is blues' gain. Charlie Musselwhite grew up in Memphis (and actually ran moonshine, according to his bio), was friends with the Million Dollar Quartet, and then migrated to Chicago's south side, where he discovered another set of heavies to pal around with: Muddy, Howlin' Wolf, Little Walter, Big Walter, John Lee Hooker, and Big Joe Williams. When the White Blues boom of the '60s hit big, Musselwhite was at the forefront with contemporaries like Paul Butterfield, John Hammond, and John Mayall. Unlike that esteemed circle, his output has remained prolific. He was a sideman to the late John Lee Hooker and has played on sessions with the Blind Boys of Alabama, Bonnie Raitt, Tom Waits, and even INXS (that's him huffin' and puffin' on "Suicide Blonde"). And I'll bet he's the only guy at this festival whose logo looks like a biker's tattoo!
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.