I’m thrilled to be presenting Charlie Musselwhite in Palo Alto on December 29 — only 19 days away!
I found this early video, from 1981, in Fairfax, California — Marin County, not too far from what has been Charlie’s stomping grounds for many, many years.
Last I saw Charlie was at McNear’s Mystic Theatre in Petaluma — also North Bay — in about 2005. I went backstage and said hello to him, having made his acquaintance during my short stint as Henry Butler’s manager, in 2003. I remember there was a very young player sitting it with him for a few songs, or subbing his parts for him. I think they called her “Sweet Pea”. Maybe he lent her a harp – -he had a case with perhaps a dozen instruments. I was there as agent or manager or tour manager or wing-man for Gary Floyd Band, featuring Doug Hilsinger, the opening act — I had gotten them the gig, but took no commission. I had submitted Gary — actually called Gary Floyd’s Hard Again — a Muddy Waters reference, but ironic since Gary is gay to Sheila Groves of Notable Talent, who booked that show plus a blues festival.
The Charie Musselwhite video above also features Mark Naftalin, on piano. Another former Chicago guy, I beleve, who has been out here a while.
Actually if you Google “charlie musselwhite” and “palo alto” besides the ticket link to my show — which is at The Palo Alto JCC, and features support acts Valerie Troutt with Howard Wiley, and MC Lars — there are a couple links to a flyer from a show very near the recently built jewish center, at The Big Beat from 1970 or so — it’s now torn down, like many many Palo Alto former venues.
Actually actually, if you search “charlie musselwhite” and “jewish” you find him giving interviews about a somewhat recent trip to Israel. He played there after one of his sidemen or contemporaries had played there and spoke favorably of the experience. (Meta: long-time readers here of Plastic Alto know that I used to use the coined term “search-injun” instead of Google as a verb, to preserve their copyright or because I didn’t want to give them the publicity, but since I have met the founders and so many key employees I figure it’s ok now to give them the publicity, plus they don’t fear losing their TM. That, and Alan Eagle, a Google spokesperson and my former neighbor in 94022, who spoke to Andy Dolich class, said it was ok — and I admit I’m in foul territory on a blues cruise).
I did not know until researching the marketing of this December 29 blues show that many people think Charlie is the archetype for Dan Ackroyd’s Blues Brother character. As you can see above, Charlie wore sunglasses on stage for much of his early career.
I saw about 10 shows of the 2004 Front Porch Blues Tour, and don’t recall Charlie wearing shades. I do recall him wearing on the bus a hoodie that said “Vallejo Bike Club” or something.
If you excuse the jump cut, Laura Chavez the Mountain View (and former St. Francis Lancer point guard) guitar legend plays tomorrow night at Sweetwater in Mill Valley with the Nikki Hill band. She trades licks with Mr. Hill, the guitarist. That band drove out from New Orleans to do about 12 West Coast and West dates, and Laura, now based in San Diego, met them in Arizona.
I’m saying, Laura wears a kangol-style cap pretty low over her eyes, so maybe she should go Charlie and wear shades. I think Bob Margolin used to wear shades — he played my series, at the Mitch on July 6, I will have to check the tape. Regarding Laura and circling back to my experience on Front Porch Blues, I was actually Laura Chavez’s manager – or I managed Lara Price Band — during that winter, and I remember playing Deb Coleman the performance of Lara and Laura that was included in a Ruf Records commpilation. Deborah said that she would think of hiring Laura as a sideperson, but wanted to know how well she played rhythm guitar.
So besides just being a performance of an epic icon, Charlie, this play is notable in that it is in Palo Alto, and in the Jewish Center. Once you get on stage it’s all about the music, but in terms of the marketing or the hype those are two hooks, methinks.
edit to add: since I digressed to several other people not appearing Sunday December 29, 2019 with Charlie Musselwhite, June Core on drums — also on that FCB tour — Valerie Troutt, Howard Wiley and MC Lars — I have to admit that I had to look up Luther Tucker, in the linked video, before adding this note. Great guitar player, from Memphis and Chicago before Marin County, played with Muddy, died to young – -he was 57, about my age, and like me an Aquarius. Riff in peace, y’all. Rip, in the sense of a great solo. By the way, I’m also doing an Elvin Bishop show here December 20 at The Mitch (with Mitch Woods and Maria Muldaur).