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CD Review: Corey Harris' Blu.black 

The Deal: Advanced musical roots tutelage by Corey Harris.

The Good: Corey Harris is often labeled as a bluesman, but that description is way too narrow. Harris has spent most of his career exploring the roots of black music. After studying anthropology in college, Harris got a post-graduate fellowship to study Pidgin English in Cameroon in West Africa. To date, Harris' musical journey has roamed from ju-ju to country blues to reggae to soul, His '95 debut, Between Midnight And Day, demonstrated Harris' mastery of acoustic rural blues from Charley Patton to Muddy Waters. He explored New Orleans brass on '97's Fish Ain't Bitin' and leaped around from hip-hop to blues to reggae to ragtime for '99's Greens From the Garden. 2000's Vu-Du Menz with New Orleans pianist Henry Butler featured stomping, rollicking barrelhouse Big Easy blues. For his latest, Harris is more laid-back than usual, with offerings in reggae, gospel and soul. "My Song" sounds like it was taken right out of church. Although done in a soul vein, "Pimps and Thieves" is reminiscent of Junior Murvins' '77 reggae classic "Police and Thieves." "Run Around Girl" sounds like '72 vintage Marley. Harris gets back to his country blues roots on "Blues," his adaptation on of W.C. Handy's 1914 "St Louis Blues."

The Bad: You never know what to expect from Harris until you open his latest package.

The Verdict: Harris is still one of the best musical historians in the business.

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  • On Saturday, Oct. 21, hundreds gathered at Camp North End on Statesville Avenue for Charlotte's first black alternative music festival. We captured some of the bands in action on stage, but mostly we surveyed the grounds as fans, families, vendors and more lounged around the sprawling, colorful Camp North End site. It was a great day of music, food, fun, and sweet, autumn sunshine. (Photos by Mark Kemp)
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