Corey Harris is often billed simply as an acoustic bluesman, but he’s more than that. The 41-year-old Richmond resident is the recipient of a MacArthur genius grant and has a degree in anthropology; he’s studied linguistics and music in Mali, Cameroon, and Ethiopia. Harris has periodically departed from old-school strumming, and he does so again on 2009’s blu.black. Working with a band led by organist Peanut Whitley, Harris showcases his soulful vocals on the gospel-tinged “My Song” and on roots-reggae tracks like “Babylon Walls” and “Columbus.” Although Harris’ socially conscious lyrics are a tad generic, if you’re paying attention to his creative fingerwork and church-rooted warbling, you probably won’t mind.
HARRIS PERFORMS AT 8 AND 10 P.M. (SAME TIMES FRIDAY) AT BLUES ALLEY, 1073 WISCONSIN AVE. NW. $25. (202) 337-4141.