From the rapturous response to a short solo set, it’s clear that the audience would happily settle for country blues atavism alone. This, however, wouldn’t satisfy Harris, who enjoys the camaraderie of a band and thrives on the fullness of a versatile ensemble. The band provided a sophistication and richness that may seem at odds with rollin’ and tumblin’. In fact, Harris himself is an adventurous and accomplished player, executing dazzling double time runs on a little laptop slide guitar. His comrades looked more into the future than into the past: Chris Whitley on keys lavished unexpected harmonies on basic forms, drummer Paul Dudley subjected rhythm to a regular mix- up without sacrificing flow, and bassist Jayson Morgan ensured that the results were always funky. Best of all, Gordon Jones blew a clear and ringing saxophone, with that direct expressiveness common to Albert Ayler and Junior Walker, with the horn as an extension of the individual human voice.
Real music played by real musicians to real audiences. How marvellous and how rare! The encore piece, a solo Edward Snowden-inspired song, ‘Watching You’ showed the influence of Bob Marley with its sunlit social consciousness. From such roots spring grow beautiful strong trees. Or, in Harris’ case, a whole exotic forest.