Arts & Culture

Common Fence Music presents Corey Harris

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. — Common Fence Music will present contemporary bluesman Corey Harris in concert on Saturday, Sept. 30, at 8 p.m.

Doors will open at 7 p.m.  The concert will take place at Common Fence Point Hall, 933 Anthony Road, Portsmouth, RI.

Tickets to the show are $25 in advance, $28 at the door. Tickets and information may be obtained at, or at by searching Common Fence Music. Tickets will also be available for purchase at the door.

Corey Harris has earned substantial critical acclaim as one of the few contemporary bluesmen able to channel the raw, direct emotion of acoustic Delta blues while still allowing his music to remain eclectic. Along with Keb’ Mo and Alvin “Youngblood” Hart, he raised the flag of acoustic guitar blues in the mid-1990s. Although well versed in the early history of blues guitar, he’s no well-mannered preservationist, mixing a considerable variety of influences – from New Orleans to the Caribbean to Africa – into his richly expressive music.

Born in Denver, Colorado in 1969, Harris began playing guitar at the age of twelve after falling in love with his mother’s Lightin’ Hopkins records. He played in a rock & roll band and the marching band in high school, and developed his singing voice in church. While studying anthropology at Bates College in Maine, Harris traveled to Cameroon to study African linguistics, but also found himself soaking up as much of the local music as he could, once entranced by its polyrhythms.

Harris then moved to Napoleonville, Louisiana upon returning to the US, where he taught English and French and played the clubs, coffeehouses and street corners of nearby New Orleans. His local reputation eventually earned him a deal with Alligator Records. In 1995, the label released Harris’ debut album, Between Midnight and Day, a one-man, one-guitar affair that illustrated his mastery of numerous variations on the Delta blues style. Winning rave reviews, the album marked Harris as an exciting new presence on the blues scene, and also earned him an opening slot on tour with Natalie Merchant.

Harris released three more albums with Alligator Records – 1997’s Fish Ain’t Bitin’, a record that expanded his style by adding a New Orleans-style brass section on several tracks; 1999’s Greens from the Garden, hailed as a landmark for its representation of a kaleidoscope of black musical styles, delving deeper into funk, R&B and even reggae and hip-hop; and the jazz and early-blues influenced Vu-Du Menz, released in 2000 and recorded in tandem with veteran pianist Henry Butler. During this time, Harris also participated on the Billy Bragg/Wilco collaboration Mermaid Avenue – which set a selection of unfinished Woody Guthrie songs to music – and its sequel, Mermaid Avenue Vol. II.

Harris subsequently left Alligator Records for Rounder, releasing Downhome Sophisticate in 2002, a typically eclectic outing that explored his African influences and added more Latin music to his seemingly endless sonic palette. Two more albums followed on Rounder – the marvelous Mississippi to Mali in 2003, and Daily Bread in 2005.

In 2003, Harris was a featured artist and narrator of the Martin Scorcese documentary Feel Like Going Home, which traced the evolution of blues from West Africa to the southern US. In 2007, Harris’ talents as an artist who “forges an adventurous path marked by deliberate eclecticism” were recognized with a MacArthur Fellowship – commonly referred to as a “genius award” – from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The same year, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree from Bates College, his alma mater.

Ever the musical explorer, Harris then turned his interest to Jamaica and roots reggae for the template of his next two albums, Zion Crossroads (2007), and Blu Black (2009), both released on Telarc Records. His most recent release, 2013’s Fulton Blues¸ finds Harris revisiting several of his hybrid blues forms in a varied and interesting set.

Corey Harris has performed, recorded and toured with names such as BB King, Buddy Guy, R.L. Burnside, Ali Farka Toure, Dave Matthews Band, Tracy Chapman, Olu Dara and more. With one foot in tradition and the other in contemporary experimentation, Harris is truly a unique voice in contemporary music. Common Fence Music is excited to welcome him for the second time to their Portsmouth venue.

The Common Fence Point Hall is located at 933 Anthony Road, Portsmouth, RI. Per tradition, all shows at CFM’s Portsmouth venue are BYOB & Picnic. Concert-goers are invited to bring food and beverages to enjoy during the performances. 

Seasonal soups, homemade refreshments, and soft-drinks will also be available for purchase. The hall is fully accessible. Ticket prices vary.

For more information about Common Fence Music, please visit, or call (401)683-5085


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