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Jazzfest review: Elvin Bishop and Charlie Musselwhite

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Elvin Bishop on guitar and Charlie Musselwhite on harmonica performing at the Ottawa Jazz Festival. Thursday June 23, 2016. Errol McGihon

Jazzfest review: Elvin Bishop and Charlie Musselwhite

PETER ROBB, OTTAWA CITIZEN | Published on: June 23, 2016

TD Ottawa International Jazz Festival: Mainstage Confederation Park

The TD Ottawa International Jazz Festival opened with several shades of the blues Thursday night.

…The crowd was nicely warmed up for the more stripped down presentation by two hall of fame bluesmen who brought a simple, front porch session, starting with a song called The Blues Overtook Me, I Ain’t Lyin’.

Between Elvin Bishop and Charlie Musselwhite there are more than 100 years in the blues. Enough, indeed, to make a song about that fact.

Bishop, with his “Red Dog” Gibson guitar, and Musselwhite, the gracious exponent of the harmonica showed why their names have become part of the blues legacy that has come out of Chicago.

Both men gravitated to the Windy City in the late 1950s, Musselwhite came from Mississippi via Memphis looking for work and better pay. Bishop came from the flatlands of Oklahoma to study at the University of Chicago.

Both, though, were also searching for more of the music that had already captivated their souls. And indeed they found it. And they were happy to share their music and their stories with an appreciative crowd on a cool Thursday evening.

Bishop found a spot in the Paul Butterfield Blues Band for a time before heading out on his own. And Musselwhite, too, found his feet at the front of a band. In fact 2016 is the 50th anniversary of an important album for Musselwhite, his debut disc Stand Back! Here Comes Charley Musselwhite’s Southside Band.

Their paths have crossed many times over the years and the two men have always made a point of trying to get together to jam whenever possible. But the duet performance is a first for the two men. Judging by the ease with which they meshed, it’s a gig with some legs.

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