Songster/storyteller Reggie Harris provides the conclusion to Sumner Hall’s exciting concert series, “African American Legacy & Heritage in Jazz, Blues & Gospel,” this coming Saturday, June 1, at 7 p.m. If you saw Harris in his duo appearance with Guy Davis at Sumner Hall about four years ago, you already know how special this performer is.
Series producer Tom McHugh, who featured Harris more than once at the Mainstay in Rock Hall, said in an interview last fall, before the start of the series, that Harris was the first performer he thought of when choosing artists for Sumner Hall. “Reggie has this reputation of being able to pull all these currents together, McHugh said. ” He added that whenever he brought Harris in for a concert, “I just let him roll,” knowing the result would be right for the situation and the audience.
McHugh said that Harris was perfect for the closing act of the series because “he will leave the audience with hope.” The two met at Pete Seeger’s Clearwater festival, up and down the Hudson River, where McHugh observed Harris’s ability to “focus people on the positive.”
Harris is a gifted guitarist, songwriter, and performer of African American roots music – and a master at getting the audience to add their singing voices to the mix. Frequently appearing in a duo with his wife Kim, Harris has performed throughout the U.S., Canada, and around the world. You can hear his music on several CDs, available online or at the concert. You can hear him with Kim on several albums, including two volumes of Songs of the Underground Railroad. His most recent is Ready to Go, with tunes ranging from traditional spirituals and folk songs to Harris originals to Bob Dylan’s anthem of the protest movement, “The Times They Are a-Changin’.”
But that’s not all. Following the footsteps of his mentor Seeger, Harris is a storyteller with deep awareness of the place of the music in the society from which it has arisen. His stories cover a range from the days of the Underground Railroad and the Civil Rights movement to personal anecdotes that connect past and present in a meaningful context. For more about Reggie Harris’s multi-faceted career, visit his website.
Anyone who loves American roots music – especially anyone who likes to sing along! – should be in Sumner Hall, 206 S. Queen St., for the concert Saturday. Tickets are $20. Reservations can be made on the Sumner Hall website.