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Charlie Musselwhite

Charlie Musselwhite - harmonica, vocalist

Charlie Musselwhite seemed destined to be a bluesman. Born in Mississippi, the cradle of the blues, in 1944, Charlie moved to Memphis at an early age and became immersed in the city's diverse musical culture. While Charlie soaked up the music of Memphis with the enthusiasm of a true devotee, it was the blues that caught his soul. In his teens, he befriended several of Memphis' legendary traditional bluesmen, including guitarist Furry Lewis, Will Shade and the surviving members of the Memphis Jug Band. It wasn't long before Charlie began sitting in with his more experienced friends, and establishing a name for himself.

When Charlie was 18, he had an awakening. Music wasn't paying the rent, so for $50 a trip, Charlie would run moonshine whiskey from remote country stills into downtown Memphis, and his bosses would distribute it to dozens of drive-in burger joints around town. When the state police followed him home one day, Charlie decided it was time for a change of profession. The next day, he packed up and headed north on Highway 51 to try his luck in Chicago.

With the intent on finding a factory job in the Windy City, he instead found urban blues in all of its soulful glory. He hung out in the smoky blues clubs on the city's South and West sides and frequently sat in with legends like Little Walter, Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. He also worked as a band member with Big Joe Williams, J.B. Hutto, Big Walter Horton, Johnny Young, Robert Nighthawk and Floyd Jones. “Coming to Chicago was like walking into Fat City,” says Charlie. “These guys inspired me. They gave me an incentive to find my own sound.”

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