BEN HARPER & CHARLIE MUSSELWHITE
Fusing rock, funk, soul and socially conscious folk, Ben Harper is undeniably talented. His nimble guitar and pliant vocals evoke the swing of Taj Mahal, the fire of Richie Havens and the heartfelt confessions of Cat Stevens. Yet Harper's stylistic diversity often veers into ADD, making him as diffuse, if not quite as derivative, as Lenny Kravitz. Luckily, Harper has a sixth sense for collaborators. Instead of being stunt casting, his 2004 match-up with The Blind Boys of Alabama accentuated the strengths of both parties, while highlighting Harper's feel for roots Americana. Harper's current teaming with blues harmonica great Charlie Musselwhite is just as genuine. The duo first paired when they played with John Lee Hooker in 1997, and their current tour and LP, Get Up!, is the fruition of long-laid plans. Playing with telepathic intensity, Harper and Musselwhite are adept at everything from stripped-down Delta blues to juke joint stompers. Space is cleared for Musselwhite's own diversity, echoing Sonny Boy Williamson's talking harp and Little Walter's amped-up squall. Musselwhite nails it when he calls the collaboration with Harper "a new way of making blues." $40. Sept. 15, 7:30 p.m. The Fillmore, 1000 N.C. Music Factory Blvd. 704-916-8970.