A couple of originals: Blues meets neo-Americana

A couple of originals: Blues meets neo-Americana

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Corey Harris

Delta blues guitar man Corey Harris headlines a show at the Whiteside on Thursday, March 13, along with Portland up-and-comer Clara Baker.

Veteran blues guitarist Corey Harris headlines an eclectic double-bill with Portland-based newcomer Clara Baker at the Whiteside Theatre in downtown Corvallis on Friday, March 13.

Harris carries a hard-won reputation as one of the few contemporary bluesmen who is able to channel the raw, direct emotion of acoustic Delta blues without coming off as an authenticity-obsessed historian.

Since the mid-1990s, when he carried the standard of acoustic guitar blues along with the likes of Keb’ Mo’ and Alvin “Youngblood” Hart, Harris has released close to 20 albums, including 2019’s “Louisa County Blues.” He has lived and traveled widely in West Africa and memorably collaborated with African guitarist Ali Farka Toure on the 2002 album “Mississippi to Mali,” which fused American blues and West African guitar sounds.

Although well-versed in the early history of blues guitar, Harris is no well-mannered preservationist, mixing influences ranging from New Orleans to the Caribbean to Africa into his richly expressive music.

Baker is an indie-Americana songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and aspiring producer with a willingness to try something different.

Her second album, 2019’s “Things to Burn,” was recorded live to tape in a Wisconsin living room with Grammy Award-winning engineer Brian Joseph (whose credits include work with Sufjan Stevens and Bon Iver) and avant-folk experimentalist Shane Leonard.

Atwood Magazine called the record “soul-stirring,” and East Portland Blog pronounced it a “must-hear” that was “destined to become one of the best albums of 2019.”

Baker, who plays fiddle and guitar in the Portland-based trio Five Letter Word, placed fourth in the 2019 Telluride Troubadour Competition.

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Diffie, a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, was a member of the Grand Ole Opry for more than 25 years. His hits included “Honky Tonk Attitude," “Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox (If I Die)," “Bigger Than the Beatles" and “If the Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets).”

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