FESTIVAL VETERAN: Ben Harper had the crowd screaming for more at Bluesfest in Byron Bay. Now he and Charlie Musselwhite will come together for Splendour in the Grass.
FESTIVAL VETERAN: Ben Harper had the crowd screaming for more at Bluesfest in Byron Bay. Now he and Charlie Musselwhite will come together for Splendour in the Grass. Marc Stapelberg

Ben Harper brings the blues to Splendour 2018

BEN Harper and Charlie Musselwhite will be performing at Splendour in the Grass 2018 this July.

The duo of blues stars will bring their second joint album, No Mercy In This Land, to the Splendour stages.

Released last March 30, the album is a collaboration that, Harper said, started from their friendship.

"(Our music collaboration) started through our friendship and started by an introduction from (the late American musician) John Lee Hooker,” he said.

"We met in 1993. Charlie and I were session musicians. John Lee invited Charlie and I to be on what was to became his last studio record, Best of Friends (1998).

"After that session, in 1997, John Lee said to us 'you two should do this more often' and he never wasted words.

"It took us 15 years, for both to not be busy at the same time, and we jumped in the studio and made a record where we had no other expectation than to make a record where we enjoyed each other's musicianship.”

That first record was Get Up (2013), but Harper said they decided to repeat the experience.

"That record did really well, but the main reason to do it again was that, after touring and doing 300 shows and three million miles on the freaking road travelled, there was a clear kinship and a friendship that had to be explored further,” he said.

"There was too much more to be said in the name of the blues.”

The musician said the second experience creating music with Musselwhite, 74, was "like no other”.

Musselwhite is an American electric blues harmonica player and bandleader, a true blues icon.

He came to prominence in the early 1960s, and was reportedly the inspiration for the character played by Dan Aykroyd in the Blues Brothers, a sketch he created in 1976 for US TV comedy program Saturday Night Live.

Harper said the musical chemistry between him and Musselwhite ignited this new album into existence.

"Chemistry is rare. You can put five of the best musicians in the world in one room and you may not get one good songs,” he said.

"Chemistry matters and this band has an amazing chemistry, I feel.”

Harper acknowledged that part of that chemistry came from the fact that both he and Musselwhite moved in a similar "musical direction”.

"We have different ages and we come from different generations, but our complementary directions lend themselves to put together what we do in the studio,” he said.

At Splendour in the Grass, July 20-22, North Byron Parklands.