Singer Charlie Musselwhite has been at the forefront of the contemporary blues scene for more than 40 years. He's recorded over 30 albums, and played harmonica with some of the greatest names in pop, rock and blues. Musselwhite is in top form on a new album that draws from his life on and off the stage.
Charlie Musselwhite delivers one of his most personal albums to date, "The Well." The title song is dedicated to then-18-month-old Jessica McClure, who, in 1987, drew worldwide attention when she fell into a small well and was trapped for more than two days before being rescued. Charlie says her sheer bravery inspired him to overcome his longtime addiction to alcohol.
"She had to get out of that well. On the other hand, how brave she was being was really moving to me," he said. "And, it occurred to me what I thought of was a problem in my life really didn't amount to 'a hill of beans' compared to her problem."
Charlie admits he's always wanted to play the blues, especially after hearing it on the radio while growing up in Memphis, Tennessee.
"My dad gave me a guitar and I had harmonicas, and I had been listening to blues for a long time and I really loved it," he said. "I thought it feels so good when you listen to it, it must feel even better to play it. And I thought, 'Well, I've got a guitar and I've got these harmonicas I want to give it a whirl. I'd go out into the woods with my harmonica and just make up my own blues. And it just seemed like the most natural thing, I don't know, it seemed to make sense. It just came to me very easy."
Charlie eventually made his mark on the electric blues scene in Chicago, and later, as a bandleader and recording artist in San Francisco. He says his music has taken him all over the world, and through good times and bad, the blues have magically kept him going.
"The blues is a spirit of 'keepin' on keepin' on,' and not giving up, and, 'We can do this.' No matter how bad it is, we can do it, we can get through it," he said. "And it's never about giving up or being down. It's [meant] to get rid of that feeling and be uplifting. That's why I say it's your comforter when you are down and it's your buddy when you're up. It's an all-purpose music for anything life has to throw at you."
Charlie was one of six musicians inducted into the Blues Music Hall of Fame in 2010.
His latest album, "The Well", features a song written in memory of his mother, as well as tunes about his birthplace in Mississippi, traveling, and the healing power of the blues on the track, "Where Highway 61 Runs."