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Charlie Musselwhite at The Slippery Noodle

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I stopped in to the Slippery Noodle to see a blues legend last Tuesday night: Charlie Musselwhite, the famed harmonica player. Turns out he’s not just an incredible harp player; he's a great story teller, too, especially when it's as a lead-in to the song he's getting ready to play. Such was the case as he prepared to play “The Well”. In prefacing the song, we learned of Musselwhite’s previous addiction to alcohol and how it took something as dramatic as the 1987 incident involving baby Jessica McClure trapped in the bottom of a well for him to realize his personal situation wasn’t as dreadful as he had perceived it to be. “I said a prayer for her,” he told his Slippery Noodle audience, “and I stopped drinking until she was rescued. By that time three days later, I was out of the well myself.”

Musselwhite’s harp style is unique and he impressed me with his dramatic crescendos, all the way down to a barely audible puff of air through his instrument. He threw his voice from a sing to a growl with zero effort in a matter of seconds. And while most of the music was upbeat and played at a comfortable speed, Musselwhite did express a certain fondness for more a more traditional sound. “Slow blues- gotta have it,” he said. “Gotta have some slow blues.”

Furthering his charm, Musselwhite’s stage presence includes a generous amount of genuine personality. He is very gentle and soft spoken.And the way he shook his finger at the other members of the band after they completed a solo (as if to say, "well, look at you!") was simply adorable.

Kudos to The Slippery Noodle for hosting such a notable figure in the world of blues music right here in Indianapolis. Further appreciation is extended for an early start and moderately early close, allowing concert attendees to still catch a solid night of sleep before returning to work on Wednesday morning.

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