Musical relationships are a lot like romantic relationships. There has to be elements of mutual respect, trust, and admiration. When the relationship works, it is very beneficial for the musicians and fans alike. This is why Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite have been able to thrive in the blues world together for so long.
At 74 years old, Charlie Musselwhite is one of the most accomplished and well-known blues harp players on the scene and continues to stretch his musical scope to this day. He has played in many bands including Paul Butterfield’s Blues Breakers with Mike Bloomfield and Canned Heat. He introduced a whole new way of viewing the harmonica in music and has been a long-lived figure in blues.
Then we have Ben Harper who is 48 years old and has experimented with every genre from folk and rock to reggae and blues. Harper has played everything from Robert Johnson-inspired blues to Bob Dylan-inspired folk. He is a three-time Grammy Award winner in categories including Soul Gospel, Best Pop Instrumental, and Best Blues Album.
The two bluesmen met about twenty years ago, brought together by the incomparable blues mastermind, John Lee Hooker. Hooker invited the men to record on his 1998 remake of “Burning Hell” when he began touring and performing again for a little while. Musselwhite had been close friends with Hooker for some years and has many great stories of those days in blues.
Musselwhite and Harper are keeping the tradition blues music from artists like Hooker very much alive in a time where the genre would fade away into the depths.
Their partnership is a testament to older and younger generations being able to come together and make amazing music. The duo has recorded two great blues albums, their most recent release being No Mercy in This Land released on March 30, 2018. This is a must-listen blues album that will most likely appear on a list of Grammy nominees next year!