Keystone’s got the blues |

Keystone’s got the blues

JENNIFER HARPERsummit daily news
Special to the DailySix time Grammy-nominated Charlie Musselwhite takes the stage at The Pavilion at Keystone for the headliner concert at 7 p.m. Saturday.

KEYSTONE – Jimi Hendrix said, “Blues is easy to play, but hard to feel.” However, the musicians at this weekend’s Keystone Blues Festival and Art Show only make it look easy, and audiences will definitely walk away having felt the blues.This Saturday and Sunday River Run at Keystone will transform into a sea of art and blues, frosty brews and chilled wine, tasty dishes and a lot of sultry soul.Six time Grammy-nominated Charlie Musselwhite takes the stage at The Pavilion at Keystone for the headliner concert at 7 p.m. Saturday.”When people think of the blues, they think, ‘I don’t want to hear that; it’s something sad,'” Musselwhite said. “Blues is your comforter when you’re down and your buddy when you’re up.”Musselwhite was born in Mississippi and landed in the middle of the Memphis music scene when it was becoming a hotbed for rock ‘n’ roll giants like Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash. According to Musselwhite’s website, he “lost no time in developing skills for which he himself became legendary – learning to drink deep, comb his hair ‘right’ and to play the hell out of both harp and guitar.”

After heading to Chicago, he met musical legends like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker and Little and Big Walter. Hooker became a friend and musical partner and was also the best man when Musselwhite married his wife Henrietta.Knowing what he knows now, Musselwhite said he might have made some different decisions in his youth.”I would’ve quit drinking sooner. I haven’t had a drink in 17 years, but I should’ve quit a lot sooner,” he said. “I feel like I really wasted a lot of time too. I would’ve spent more time with the older guys I knew. “When you’re that age you don’t really think about mortality; you’re just having a good time. It wasn’t a thought that all those people I knew then wouldn’t be here now. I wish I would’ve known them better. Each one had a whole life of experience that I wish I would’ve known more about.”Musselwhite formed his own band and released his debut “Stand Back!” in 1966. He now has made more than 20 albums of his own, including “Sanctuary,” and he has contributed to many others, including Bonnie Raitt’s Grammy award-winning “Longing In Their Hearts,” The Blind Boys of Alabama’s Grammy-winning “Spirit of the Century” and INXS’ “Suicide Blonde.”At this point in his career, Musselwhite is just continuing to spread the word about his music and trying to use it to infuse a little more joy into people’s lives.

“I like what I’m doing,” Musselwhite said. “After we perform, people are feeling a little better than when we got there, I hope.”Despite his success and experience, he said he continues to learn more about music every day.”There’s really no end to it. The further you go, the more you see there is to learn. I think of myself as a lifelong learner,” Musselwhite said. “There are musicians that just level off and stay in one place, and that’s okay for some people. For me, it’s an ongoing adventure.”As far as his own musical tastes are concerned, Musselwhite said he listens to all kinds from blues and jazz to rock ‘n’ roll, and he’s always looking for new sounds.Musselwhite has traveled to different countries like Brazil and Turkey, where he’ll hear music coming out of a little bar or a man just playing on a corner.

“That’s the stuff. It’s music from the heart. You might not understand the language, but you sure get it. It’s the kind of music that resonates with you beyond words,” Musselwhite said.After Musselwhite’s Keystone concert Saturday, the night explodes at 9:15 p.m. with fireworks over Keystone Lake at Lakeside Village.Free parking will be available at the River Run lots, located just off Gondola Road.For more information, call (970) 496-4FUN (4386).Jennifer Harper can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 248, or at

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