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  • Sanctuary
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Audio CD, April 6, 2004
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Editorial Reviews

Harmonica giant Charlie Musselwhite has evolved from stone traditionalist to blues experimentalist in recent years, with excursions into Tejano, country, and jazz. Now, with the help of Blind Boys of Alabama producer John Chelew, the 60-year-old has made a masterpiece that balances his music's Delta soul with sonic innovation. Musselwhite's world-weary singing is perfect for the haunting textures that the scraped and bell-toned guitar strings bring to "Train to Nowhere" and Randy Newman's "Burn Down the Cornfield," songs where the fog of danger hangs in the air like ectoplasm. Slide-guitar guests Sonny Landreth and Ben Harper bring rippling energy to the bad-luck story "Shootin' for the Moon" and the Harper-penned spiritual "Homeless Child." And the Blind Boys' zesty old-time harmonies turn Musselwhite's biographical "I Had Trouble" into a gospel-tent confession. But, if the voice of God appears anywhere, it's in Musselwhite's always lush and mesmerizing harmonica. --Ted Drozdowski

1. Homeless Child
2. My Road Lies In Darkness
3. Burn Down The Cornfield
4. Trains To Nowhere
5. Shootin For The Moon
6. Shadow Peopl
7. Snake Song
8. The Neighborhood
9. Alicia
10. Sanctuary
11. I Had Trouble
12. Route 19

Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 6, 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Real World
  • ASIN: B0001HAI7M
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #291,557 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Charlie Musselwhite Performs "Just Your Fool" with Cindy Lauper on the Season finale of CELEBRITY APPRENTICE (May 2010)


Harmonica master Charlie Musselwhite’s life 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, Musselwhite continues to create trailblazing music while remaining firmly rooted in the blues. His worldly-wise vocals, rich, melodic harmonica playing and deep country blues ... Read more in Amazon's Charlie Musselwhite Store

Visit Amazon's Charlie Musselwhite Store
for 38 albums, 7 photos, videos, and 7 full streaming songs.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By mb on May 4, 2004
Format: Audio CD
On the Internet you'll find Charlie Musselwhite's Alligator Records bio, his VH1 bio. And his Blind Pig Records bio and many others, so well-traveled is this blues icon
And it seems as if this master of the blues harp has been around as long as harmonicas. He adds to his legend with each album and guest appearance and here's his latest - Sanctuary (Real World)
I locked into it on the 2nd listen and it's a special recording. The songs are from great writers. Randy Newman's "Burn Down the Cornfield", Townes Van Zandt's "Snake Song" and Sonny Landreth's "Shootin' For the Moon are here. There are also songs written by Musselwhite, Ben Harper (the album's best cut, "Homeless Child"), a song by the album's guitarist Charlie Sexton and an interesting version of the old Savoy Brown song "Train to Nowhere" was what initially got my attention.
It's tempting to automatically accept any effort from Charlie Musselwhite as exceptional. But his Sanctuary is quite an album, and his vocals and harp playing are strong and clear.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Joel on April 21, 2004
Format: Audio CD
I have to say that I experienced "Sanctuary" rather than just listened to it. I am a huge fan of Charlie and I read reviews of the CD before I purchased it. The excellent reviews gave me high hopes and could have set me up for disappointment, but the following attests to how much I enjoy the experience of "Sanctuary."
The CD has 12 tunes that work together like 12 scenes in a drama. While each tune tells its own story, after listening to the CD in its entirety, you don't feel much different than you do at the end of a movie that tells a story about a person or a family and the ups and downs of their lives. So, yes, "Sanctuary" is a CD that you can play from start to finish without skipping a tune.
To blues fans and musicians, Charlie is an icon. On this CD he beautifully demonstrates the power and flexibility of the harmonica. On some tunes, the harp sounds like a traditional harmonica and on others, Charlie makes it sound like a violin or cello. When you add in Charlie's singing, you really connect with the feelings of "Sanctuary."
The most interesting thing to me about this CD is that experiencing it is a perfect example of the meaning of the second definition of the word sanctuary as found in Merriam Webster's online dictionary: a place of refuge and protection.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By chris meesey Food Czar on October 13, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Listen to this album once. No, don't form any judgements yet, just listen. And then listen again. And again. See if this haunted, evocative world of midnight blues doesn't stick in your craw somewhere. That's the effect of veteran Chicago/Mississippi/Memphis harp player Charlie Musslewhite's latest effort, Sanctuary, will have on you. There are some first rate individual songs here, especially "Homeless Child," "My Road Lies in Darkness," and a fabulous cover of the Savoy Brown classic "Train to Nowhere," featuring the Blind Boys of Alabama, but mostly, the whole effort is greater than the sum of the parts. Musslewhite has the perfect voice for 3AM reflections with a glass of booze (or whatever), and Charlie Sexton's ringing guitar parts are first-class all the way. Great vocal tracks, but also incredible instrumentals, such as "Shadow People," "Alicia," and the harmonica-fest that is "Route 19". The album's total effect is at once troubling and eerily comforting, as Musslewhite clearly implies that the blues can be a sanctuary from problems, as well as a way to confront them. Purchase Sanctuary right away, and see if the shadow people don't pay you a visit some morning at 3AM.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By "celeste_is_also" on April 12, 2004
Format: Audio CD
"Sanctuary" - Charlie Musselwhite
Real World Records - April 6, 2004
CD Review by Celeste - April 11, 2004
(Reprint of review for blues society.)
Sanctuary - holy place; shrine; the chancel, church or other place of protection for fugitives
Sanctuary Synonyms - refuge, home, haven, harbor, port, asylum, retreat, fortress, castle, shelter
Shelter - a place or structure giving protection; that which covers or defends; a place of refuge or asylum
Holy Week was an appropriate time for Charlie Musselwhite's new CD "Sanctuary" to be released. These are dark times that we live in and everyone needs sanctuary, in multiple forms, on various levels. Thank God for music! I'll tell you what I think about this CD, but don't wait, buy it today and listen to it for yourself (...) There are a number of interesting subtleties surrounding this CD. I don't know if it was a coincidence or not, but the day of the release, April 6th, happens to be the anniversary of Big Walter Horton's birthday. Something else I'll ask Charlie about in our upcoming interview, are the five symbols above the letters, the notation seems familiar to me somehow. Also, I wonder why his eyes appear on the publicity photos but not the CD jacket covers... what does this mean, does this mean anything? I can't be the only curious one. ;^}
The Sanctuary Band formed by Charlie Musselwhite ~ vocals and harmonica, Charlie Sexton ~ guitar and vocals, Jared Michael Nickerson ~ bass, and Michael Jerome ~ drums, definitely have a good groove going. They each played with great emotion on this recording. I particularly like the instrumental that the four wrote together, "Shadow People", I find it surreal, elastic, spooky and soothing simultaneously.
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