Corey Harris wows Arts Center crowd

The Randolph County Community Arts Center got to hear the creative and skillful sounds of Corey Harris & the Rasta Blues Experience on Saturday night.

Harris, a powerful singer and accomplished guitarist, leads the group with his contemporary music, blending sounds of traditional, acoustic swampy blues with those of ska and reggae to create a sound entirely original, yet classic.

Born in Denver, Colo., Harris has carved his own niche in blues appearing in venues throughout North America, Europe, Brazil, the Carribean, West Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. He has performed, recorded and toured with many of the top names in music such as BB King, Taj Mahal, Buddy Guy, Henry Butler, R.L. Burnside, John Jackson, Ali Farka, Toure, the Dave Matthews Band, Tracy Chapman, Olu Dara, Wilco, Natalie Merchant and many others.

In 2003, Harris was featured in the Martin Scorcese film, “Feel Like Going Home,” which traced the evolution of blues from West Africa to the southern U.S. Harris also was granted a $500,000 MacArthur Fellowship-commonly referred to as a “genius award”-recognizing his creativity, originality, and commitment to continued innovative work, which the MacArthur Foundation described as “forges an adventurous path marked by deliberate eclecticism.”

Harris, accompanied by his bandmates – Gordon Jones “Saxman,” Chris Whitley “Peanut,” Ken Joseph “Trini Joe” and Jaysou Morgan “Brother J” – came to the Arts Center after performing at the Purple Fiddle in Thomas and in Shepherdstown. Harris said he loves performing in the Mountain State.

“People are very aware of roots music here,” he said, in an interview with The Inter-Mountain. “Because a lot of the music that comes out of the area is traditional music, there’s a real appreciation for traditional acoustic music, like old-time and blues, throughout the area and across the Mid-Atlantic. But West Virginians seem to be special. They love the music and pick up on the nuances. They are always an appreciative audience.”

When describing his sound, Harris said that “blues is the blueprint and the gateway into all the other sounds.”

The group performed many different types of songs in their set, from swampy blues, to Carribean rock and a series of acoustic pieces, including the song, “Mami Wata,” which he dedicated to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

For more information on Corey Harris & the Rasta Blues Experience, visit their website