June 03, 2016 at Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse in Berkeley.
Charlie Musselwhite may be the only musician to get a huge ovation just for opening his briefcase. Fans know that’s where he keeps his harmonicas and they’re about to hear one of the true masters work his magic on the humble instrument.
Musselwhite is, and always will be, a bluesman of the highest order. But he’s taken blues harp from the clubs on the Southside of Chicago (where “Memphis Charlie” and Mike Bloomfield backed Big Joe Williams) to places it’s never been before, both musically and physically. He’s soloed to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” with Cyndi Lauper on Good Morning America; wailed on “Echo Bells” with Japan’s Kodo drummers (produced by the Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart); and mixed blues with Cuban son legend Eliades Ochoa, each playing on the other’s album. He’s jammed on stage with Mick Jagger and recorded with such diverse artists as INXS, Tom Waits, bluegrass fiddler Vassar Clements, gospel Blind Boys of Alabama, and even Cat Stevens. And shortly before winning the Grammy for Best Blues Album for their collaboration Get Up!, he and Ben Harper played at the White House for President Obama and the First Lady, in a salute to Memphis soul.
The Easy Leaves are a duo from Sonoma County who play American roots rock with a country lilt. Kevin Carducci “kicked the banjo habit” and now plays upright bass. Sage Fifield plays guitar. Together, they write, record, and perform songs that are meticulously crafted, and have great capabilities of (just plain) moving people. Under the guidance of Merle Haggard’s music, and countless other important poets, The Easy Leaves have written their own collection of poetry for the common man. Influenced by artists from Smokey Robinson to Bob Wills, their sound is a distillation of many forms of American music. When asked the main themes of their music, Sage said, “Celebration, the search to create meaning in the world, love, heartache, solitude and togetherness, gasoline, gold, and fire.”
Their last record, Fresno, a featured new Country release on iTunes, found the boys truly bringing the honky tonk into the studio. Summer of 2016 sees the release of The Wheels, in the same timeless vein, as they continue their pilgrimage as proud ambassadors for California Country music.