“Blues was what I understood deepest in myself,” says Harris, “because I grew up with that. My mom was of that generation. She lived in the depression in northeast Texas near Louisiana, so I always heard stories about it. It wasn’t a stretch for me to understand what was going on, even though it took me a while to be able to play it.”
Some songs we might be treated to: Skip James’s unusually mournful sound on “Special Rider Blues” and “Cypress Grove,” Robert Petway’s “Catfish Blues, ” said to have influenced the young John Lee Hooker, and the model for Muddy Waters’s “Rolling Stone,” a down and dirty blues called “Mr. Turner,” dedicated to Otha Turner, from the Hill Country of Mississippi. Others may include “Charlene,” a song Harris wrote and sings in French, using a guitar tuning he picked up by watching a guitarist from the West African Mande griot tradition, and “Coahoma,” a picking, sliding guitar instrumental, a song inspired by trains and named for the Mississippi county where Harris wrote it. Cross your fingers that we’ll be treated to some masterful slide guitar on Blind Willie Johnson’s “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground.” Expect to also hear material from his album Fulton Hill Blues, written while he lived her in Richmond in recent years.