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Musselwhite can’t drop Cristo

Charlie tried to leave trademark track out of shows - but angry response changed his mind

Charlie Musselwhite tried to drop trademark track Cristo Redentor from his live set – but he’s always forced to bring it back.

That doesn’t bother the award-winning harp hero, because he remains in love with the piece he made his own decades ago.

Musselwhite tells Kentucky.com: “I don’t know of another song like it. I just start playing the first few notes, and it’s like the spirit of the song shows up and takes me where it wants to go.”

He adds: “For a while there, I was thinking, ‘People must be getting bored with this. I’m going to quit playing it.’ Then they’d come up at the end of the night, angry, saying, ‘I waited to hear Cristo Redentor and you didn’t play it!’

“That happened enough that I knew people really did want to keep hearing it. So every night I end with Cristo – and it always seems different every time I play it.”

The track was written by jazz pianist Duke Pearson, before Musselwhite made it his own via his 1967 debut album Stand Back! Here Comes Charley Musselwhite’s Southside Band.

The 71-year-old reflects: “It’s always interesting to play what I play in a different setting, or add blues to music that’s not really blues, but still has feeling.”

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