James Cotton Band, Charlie Musselwhite

This is a rare opportunity to catch on the same bill two veteran blues harmonica masters, both with recent superb albums on Alligator that prove they're still in their prime. Both can wail with impressive firepower on the mouth harp, but their prowess in defining the blues through technical mastery and visionary passion really sets them apart. Charlie Musselwhite sings and plays with equal fervor on The Well, an extraordinary collection of autobiographical songs that eloquently detail such traumas as his struggle with alcoholism (the jazzy "Dig the Pain" and the title cut) and his mother's murder (the remarkably philosophical duet with Mavis Staples, "Sad and Beautiful World"). James Cotton (pictured), taught by Sonny Boy Williamson, was instrumental in defining modern blues harmonica while playing with Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters. On Giant, Cotton is a shining beacon of virtuosity while leading a great band anchored by members of Baton Rouge's musical Neal clan.
Thu., June 16, 7:30 p.m., 2011

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