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Hot! Episode #19

Episode #19

Recording Date: July 18, 2004
Location: Star City Recording, Bethlehem, PA

Musicians:
Charlie Musselwhite – Harmonica, Vocals
Luther Dickinson – Guitar
Rayford Griffin – Drums
Chico Huff – Bass
Marcus Johnson – Keyboards
Emedin Rivera – Percussion

Songs:
Papa Was A Rolling Stone     BUY
Pledging My Time                 BUY
Windy City                             BUY

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This was a session that had a very interesting and unusual mix of musicians. First there was Charlie Musselwhite, the legendary old school blues harmonica master. Like a fine wine, Charlie has only improved with age. His life, in fact, reads like a classic blues song: born in Mississippi, raised in Memphis and schooled on the South Side of Chicago. A groundbreaking recording artist since the 1960s, Charlie continues to create great music while remaining firmly rooted in the blues. In his long and storied career, he has worked with so many different blues and rock artists…having developed close friendships with blues icons Little Walter, Big Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, Big Joe Williams, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. Besides being a wonderful musician, Charlie is an incredibly warm and honest guy – and an absolute pleasure to work with.

Charlie Musselwhite

Next, there was Marcus Johnson on keyboards. Marcus is an extremely talented jazz composer and producer out of Washington, DC. He is an action-oriented, take charge personality – with an extremely bright future.

Luther Dickinson

On guitar, we had Luther Dickinson. Luther is the son of the late famed music producer and legendary studio owner Jim Dickinson, and an integral member of the North Mississippi All-Stars, a popular touring rock ‘n roll jam band. He brought a ton of youthful energy to the session.

Rayford Griffin

Our rhythm section was very tight…thanks in great part to our drummer, Rayford Griffin…a friend and also one of my favorite drummers. He is an exceptional musician; very versatile with monster chops. On bass was Chico Huff. Chico has been on the show a number of times and fits in beautifully each and every time, no matter who I put in the studio with him. Finally, I added Emedin Rivera on percussion…another wonderful musician and good friend.

We recorded 3 tunes that afternoon. To start us off, Marcus suggested the classic Papa Was A Rolling Stone, which was creatively built around a catchy guitar riff from Luther. After about 20 minutes of rehearsal, we cut the first of 2 takes of that song…with nice solos from both Luther and Marcus. Next, Charlie wanted to cover an old Bob Dylan tune called Pledgin’ My Time. He sang on this as well. It took awhile for everyone to get on the same page with it, but after a few minutes we were ready to record. After that, we all took a short break.

Marcus Johnson

Upon returning to the studio, Marcus suggested they try and play Windy City, a nice upbeat Rodney Franklin tune. At first, being totally unfamiliar with this jazz tune, Luther was a bit reluctant to participate and graciously tried to “sit this one out.” However, much to my pleasure, and with some natural encouragement from Marcus, he hung in there and contributed a very nice solo passage to the tune. Rayford hit it hard as well. (Not surprising though, because I believe he toured with Rodney Franklin for awhile, so he was possibly quite familiar with the tune.)

Again, this was a very eclectic mix of musicians and material…but ended up being a very, very nice and interesting session.

– Tom Emmi / Producer


“Every time I watch Studio Jams I learn something new. The musicians and musicianship are just top notch. I always try to take what I learn and incorporate it into my playing and into my band rehearsals. It’s nice to hear and see real music being made by REAL musicians.”

— J.F.