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Phil Wiggins & Corey Harris | May 14

PineCone presents Phil Wiggins and Corey HarrisAn acoustic harmonica-guitar blues duo who are uniquely able to showcase the synthesis of African and European elements that co-exist in the blues, Phil Wiggins & Corey Harris are among the most dynamic live blues musicians of our time. They represent the next generation of blues musicians, simultaneously steeped in the tradition while bringing a renewed vitality and creativity to the genre. This new partnership is a must-hear!

Wiggins & Harris perform in the Fletcher Theater at Raleigh’s Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts on Friday, May 14 at 8 p.m. as part of PineCone’s 25th Anniversary Down Home Concert Series.

Tickets are $21-$23 for PineCone members or $23-$25 for the general public. Tickets are available through PineCone’s box office (919-664-8302) or online through ticketmaster.com.

Wiggins is a blues harmonica virtuoso who achieved worldwide acclaim over three decades as one half of the premier Piedmont blues duo of Cephas & Wiggins.

Born in Washington, D.C. in 1954, Wiggins spent his childhood summers at his grandmother’s home in Alabama, where he listened to old-time hymns sung in church in the traditional call-and-response style. He was attracted to the blues harp as a young man and began his musical career with some of Washington’s leading blues artists, including Archie Edwards and John Jackson. Wiggins attributes his style to his years spent accompanying locally noted slide guitarist and gospel singer Flora Molton. Wiggins’ harmonica sound developed from listening to piano and horn players, as well as the music of Sonny Terry, Sonny Boy Williamson I, Little Walter, Big Walter Horton and Junior Wells. Wiggins also apprenticed with Mother Scott (a contemporary of Bessie Smith).

Wiggins met John Cephas in 1976, and they formed the Barrelhouse Rockers with pianist Wilbert “Big Chief” Ellis and bassist James Bellamy. After Ellis’ death in 1977, the duo Cephas & Wiggins was born. Besides being a renowned harmonica player, Wiggins wrote original songs helped define the duo’s sound.

After Cephas’ death in March 2009, Wiggins eventually teamed up with Harris, a guitarist, songwriter, and roots blues artist who is leading a contemporary revival of country blues with a fresh, modern hand.

Harris has experimented with African and Caribbean influences and lived and traveled in West Africa. He received a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” in 2007.

Harris has earned critical acclaim as one of the few contemporary bluesmen able to convincingly channel the raw, direct emotion of the Delta blues. Although he is well versed in the early history of blues guitar, he is also known for mixing a variety of influences – from New Orleans to Caribbean to African ­– into his richly expressive music. So it’s not surprise that his music appeals to a wide spectrum of blues fans, from staunch traditionalists to those with more contemporary sensibilities.

Born in Denver, Colorado in 1969, Harris got his first taste of the blues via his mother’s collection of Lightnin’ Hopkins records. He first picked up the guitar at age 12, and at the same time developed his singing abilities in church choirs. By high school, he was playing in rock bands. After time spent playing in clubs, coffeehouses and street corners of New Orleans, Harris earned a record deal with the Alligator label, and in 1995 he released his debut album of acoustic Delta blues, Between Midnight and Day. This first outing earned high marks from the critics – enough to score a high-profile opening slot on tour with Natalie Merchant. Harris followed up with a series of recordings that built upon his solid blues foundation, adding New Orleans brass band music, funk, R&B, reggae, Latin, African and more to his ever-expanding palette.

Harris demonstrates his respect for the past and his mastery of the Mississippi Delta blues tradition by interpreting the songs of early blues luminaries in new ways, while also creating an original vision of the blues by infusing his music with a broad range of sounds and styles. Harris has explored acoustic, rural blues styles with increasing success. Recordings such as Greens from the Garden (1999), Mississippi to Mali (2003), and Daily Bread (2005) reflect Harris’ reinterpretations of the African influences on American blues through ethnographic research and musical collaborations in Mali, Guinea, and elsewhere.

With eight albums already to his credit, Harris has matured from interpreter to creator. With one foot in tradition and the other in contemporary experimentation, he blends musical styles often considered separate and distinct to create something entirely new for the 21st century.

  • DATE: Friday, May 14, 2010, 8:00 p.m.
  • VENUE: Fletcher Theater, Progress Energy Center for Performing Arts, Raleigh
  • TICKETS: PineCone’s Box Office (919) 664-8302, or TicketMaster (919) 834-4000, www.ticketmaster.com
  • PRICE: $21-$23 PineCone Members, $23-$25 General Public
  • EVENT SPONSOR: PineCone – the Piedmont Council of Traditional Music, Inc.
  • INFORMATION: www.pinecone.org

Tickets are still available; for complete details and to see other upcoming PineCone events, visit www.pinecone.org.

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