Editor’s note: Reno guitarist Jason King attended the Charlie Musselwhite-Coco Montoya concert June 15 at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe. Here’s King’s review, as told to Tahoe Onstage.
Charlie Musselwhite was great.
The first thing I noticed was that he has great tone on his harmonica and his voice fit the whole vibe perfectly.
He played a lot of more traditional harmonica blues but he’s very deep. His last album was called “The Well,” and that’s pretty aptly titled because he’s deep. He’s got a lot of stuff. For the most part he played boogie blues and old-school Chicago-style blues, really nice, good stuff.
On a few of the songs he prefaced them with a story, who he played the songs with back in the day in Chicago. He was born in Memphis, Tenn., and he moved to Chicago when he was 17. He was around B.B. King, Muddy Waters and Little Walter in Chicago in the ’60s when all that stuff was blowing up. It felt like we were right there. It was part awesome blues show and part history lesson. He was pulling out a bunch of blues styles from the people who influenced him.
The rhythm section was great with Mike Phillips on bass and June Core on drums. They were very laid back in the pocket and just killing it. The guitar player is Matt Stubbs, he was good too. Charlie was pretty gracious. He had him keep soloing and he was pretty good. I liked his playing and his tone. I wish he had been able to cut loose a little more. He told me later he only had one guitar and didn’t want to break a string.
I learned about Coco Montoya when he played with Walter Trout in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. I always thought that Coco was a great rock blues shredder with great tone and nothing’s changed, but more recently it seems like he’s been a lot more polished. What comes out more in his performance is how great his voice is.
The crowd loved him. He got a standing ovation at the end of his set.
Besides the fact that he is a pretty fantastic singer and guitar player, Coco’s band is top notch. They’re tight and they’re smooth and on point. The drummer and keyboard player were singing harmonies and backup. Nathan Brown, the bass player, he was holding it down really well. But you could tell there was so much more. He’s doing is job but you could tell he could just start tearing. Anybody who pays attention to the rhythm section can see and hear that it was like a strong, powerful engine idling, just waiting to start ripping at any moment.