Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite Get Up! Stax Records For Ben Harper, the blues have always been within arm’s reach. His latest collaboration with bluesman Charlie Musselwhite, Get Up!, finally

Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite
Get Up!
Stax Records


For Ben Harper, the blues have always been within arm’s reach. His latest collaboration with bluesman Charlie Musselwhite, Get Up!, finally allows Harper the time and space to deal with the blues—on his terms. The two players first met during a session with boogie-king John Lee Hooker more than a decade ago and have been occasional collaborators since. Both Harper and Musselwhite seem to have a profound effect on the other. The gritty and soulful sound of Musselwhite’s harp adds authenticity to the group, while Harper’s songs give “Memphis” Charlie more than a 12-bar form to explore.

And explore he does. Covering the bases from jazz and blues to more folkloric sounds, Musselwhite pushes Harper and his band in a way that really demonstrates why chemistry is so important when it comes to collaborative projects. Their groove is in full force on “I’m In, I’m Out, and I’m Gone,” where Harper channels John Lee with a stream-of-consciousness lyric that fits perfectly with the stomping shuffle groove. On this album, substance and feeling are placed above flash and polish, which is a rare thing these days, but entirely necessary when it comes to the blues.

Must-hear track: “I Ride at Dawn”

A faithful recreation of the Germanium Mosrite Fuzzrite with a modern twist.

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With such a flashy flame top, the Silvertone 1445 was built to catch the eyes of department store shoppers.

I don’t know what’s going on lately, but I’m breaking down all over and my shoulder is the latest to crumble. When I was a kid I would practice guitar in my bedroom near a radiator with an ungrounded amp plug and I’d get a zap right through my guitar and into my hands. Well, my shoulder pain is like that now, only without the cool story of rock ’n’ roll survival. I simply woke up one day like this. After a few weeks of discomfort, I figured I’d try out a new pillow, since mine are flattened like a wafer. I ventured out to the mall and, much to my sadness, saw the local Sears store shuttered, with weeds growing up from the sidewalks and concrete barriers blocking the large glass doors. I know I don’t get out much, but, man, was I sad to see the Sears store I’d known since childhood closed-up like that. My wife was laughing at me because apparently it had been closed for some time. But since I seem to exist on a separate timeline than most folks, it was all news to me.

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It doesn’t have to be all cowboy boots and yee-haws!

Intermediate

Beginner

• Learn how to comp using hybrid picking.
• Add nuance to your playing by combining pick and finger string attacks.
• Add speed and fluidity to your lead playing.

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The first thing most guitarists think of when they hear the phrase “hybrid picking” is undoubtedly twangy Telecasters. While that may be the most common use of hybrid picking, it is far from the only application. Diving into hybrid picking opens a whole new world of control, timbre possibilities, ideas, speed, and more.

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