Harris

Blues revival artist Corey Harris will perform at Court Square Theater on Saturday.

On Saturday, Concerts in the Valley will host blues revival artist Corey Harris and his band for a book talk and concert at Court Square Theater.

For the first half of Saturday’s event, which begins at 7 p.m. with doors opening at 6:30 p.m., Harris will give a talk with Q&A on his book “Bluespeople Illustrated: Legends of the Blues — Drawings, discographies and biographies of the 20th century’s greatest blues men and women.”

For the second half of the event, Harris will perform original music featuring songs from “Insurrection Blues,” a new solo acoustic album Harris said he wrote based on the events leading up to the insurrection on Jan. 6. The album was recorded in Italy, where Harris lived for the past four years.

“It’s a reflection really on American history, on Black American history, our place in it as a people and even making it about the future, you know? That’s what this album is about. The past, the present and the future,” Harris said.

Harris, who was awarded a 2007 MacArthur Fellowship in music performance and composition, is described by the MacArthur Fellowship in a profile as an eclectic artist who has drawn on American blues traditions and other styles to create a unique sound.

“[Harris] is leading a contemporary revival of country blues with a fresh, modern hand. [Harris] is a powerful and compelling singer and an accomplished guitarist whose musical artistry is complimented by serious explorations of the historical and cultural conditions that gave rise to the blues,” according to the profile on the MacArthur Foundation website.

For Harris, the reason for creating the book of illustrations and reference material on blues men and women from the first half of the 20th century is based in how those performers had shaped Harris’ understanding of the blues.

“Just my love for the music and realizing that there wasn’t really one resource that had all this information in one place [inspired me,]” Harris said. “With the drawings, I also have written essays detailing the life and career of each of the musicians. It’s a cross between an illustrated graphic book and a reference book.”

The concert series, formerly known as Concerts With a View, is hosted by Gene Bowlen, a local old-time musician and owner of BeARcade Music Productions, a recording studio.

“[They were] kind of like a block party. [The house concerts were] mostly acoustic, folk old time and a little bit of bluegrass. It’ll be more traditional in terms of, ‘You’re coming to a concert.’ It’s not as intimate but we’re going to look to maintain [the same spirit],” Bowlen said. “Corey [will] spend a good amount of the evening taking back and forth questions and that’s not your usual concert.”

The intimate house concerts were held by invitation at Bowlen’s studio and were casual but high-quality affairs, Bowlen said. The series, which returns in its new form at Court Square Theater with Saturday’s concert, will feature the same atmosphere in a larger space and will be more of a formal concert with ticket sales, according to Bowlen.

“I’m hoping that people will recognize who these guys are and realize this is a pretty darn good ticket,” Bowlen said.

Contact Jillian Lynch at 574-6274 or jlynch@dnronline.com. Follow Jillian on Twitter @lynchjillian_

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