By Ayana Contreras | Published September 2022
Misty romantic movies obscure the fact that while falling in love sometimes sort of happens to you, staying in love is a series of decisions. Charlie Musselwhite’s Mississippi Son is a stripped-down little number that enshrines a handful of early moments when through sheer kismet, the blues knocked a then-young Charlie upside his head, but the album is also a pleasing testament to his decision to surrender to a lifelong love affair with the music.
Many of the cuts, such as “Remembering Big Joe” (a tribute to his one-time roommate, the unparalleled blues great Big Joe Williams) are solo affairs, recorded in a manner that captures a sense of intimacy. In the case of “Big Joe,” Musselwhite even enlists one of Williams’ old guitars. Covers of “Crawling Kingsnake” and “Hobo Blues” are shuffling remembrances to Musselwhite’s late night listening sessions, clock radio tuned to John Lee Hooker on WLAC in Memphis, sessions that “appealed to [him] so much that [he] just had to learn those tunes.”
His originals in this collection are also a treat. “Stingaree” is a sinuous little love bug, while “Pea Vine Blues” is a grooving rocker augmented by Ricky “Quicksand” Martin’s outstanding turn on drums. The tunes each bear a bit of the artist’s soul, and as Musselwhite explains in the liner notes, are “based on things I think about and/or witnessed. They all somehow are extensions of me.” They are also natural extensions of a lifetime spent choosing to truly love the blues.
Mississippi Son: Blues Up The River; Hobo Blues; In Your Darkest Hour; Stingaree; When The Frisco Left The Shed; Remembering Big Joe; The Dark; Pea Vine Blues; Crawling King Snake; Blues Gave Me A Ride; My Road Lies In Darkness; Drifting From Town To Town; Rank Strangers; A Voice Foretold. (41:12)
Personnel: Charlie Musselwhite: guitar, vocals, harmonica; Ricky “Quicksand” Martin, drums (1, 2, 5, 8–10, 12); Barry Bays, bass (1, 2, 5, 8–10, 12).
Ordering Info: alligator.com