Reggie Harris introduces New “Solid Ground” album in Live Stream from 8th Step
There’s arguably no more thoroughly American artist anywhere than our own local-hero-gone-national troubadour Reggie Harris.
As the descendant of a plantation owner and his slave, Harris has built a family connection with white cousins of that same ancestor. His sincere, strong music flows from that combined stream of striving to belong.
Saturday at the Eighth Step at Proctors GE Theater (432 State St., Schenectady), Harris celebrates his new “Solid Ground” CD, performing in the fast company of an all-star supporting cast. “On Solid Ground” follows “Ready to Go” (2018) and “Deeper Than the Skin” (2019), both mature, articulately courageous statements of identity and purpose; in addition to numerous albums with life and musical partner Kim Harris, some with their fellow duo Magpie.
On Saturday, musicians will play and sing together live, but with no audience present. Open for streaming, it’s AT the Eighth Step, but actually FROM the Eighth Step.
Harris performs with eminent regional artists with whom he’s shared many a stage in prior Eighth Step events including numerous benefits and tributes. His authoritative voice and driving or subtle guitar will resound within a band of friends: Greg Greenway, keyboard; Pat Wictor, guitar; Brian Melick, drums and percussion; Mark Murphy, bass; and singer Colleen Kattau. Kattau, Wictor and Greenway also play on the album, while Wictor and Greenway are two-thirds of the group Trio, with Joe Jencks. Also on the album: drummer Chico Huff, guitarists Matt Scarano and John Platania; saxophonist Ken Ulansey, and keyboardist Eric Byrd.
Saturday’s concert completes a two-part presentation that began with a live-streamed conversation from the Proctors MainStage featuring Harris with WAMC-FM host Wanda Fischer (“Hudson River Sampler”).
Harris was originally set to perform in January but a fractured wrist postponed the show to this Saturday.
In addition to frequent shows hereabouts and on tour, Harris is co-president of the Living Legacy Project, providing education on the Civil Rights movement. He won the Folk Alliance International’s 2021 Spirit of Folk Award. Harris is a DJ on the SiruisXM The Village program “Prisms: The Sound of Color” and has been profiled recently on CNN’s “Silence Is Not an Option” and in “The New York Times.”
“Solid Ground” is very much of its time, portraying this plague year of fear and hope, of upheaval and enduring values, of isolation and community.
“On Solid Ground” includes Harris originals “It’s Who We Are,” ‘My Working Bones,” “Come What May,” “Standing in Freedom’s Name,” “Rise Up/March On,” “Maybe It’s Love,” Let’s Meet Up Early,” “Tree of Live,” “High Over the Hudson” and the title track. Harris also covers classics “Hello In There” (John Prime), “All You Need Is Love” (John Lennon/Paul McCartney), “It Isn’t Nice” (Malvina Reynolds) and “Sing Out/March On” (Joshua Campbell). The latter tune pays tribute to the late John Lewis while Reynolds’s “It Isn’t Nice” honors Pete Seeger, as does Harris’s own “High Over the Hudson” while Harris’s “Standing in Freedom’s Name” pays homage to the Rev. C.T. Vivian and other activists.
The Eighth Step’s last fully live show was by Robert Johnson and Matt Watroba in The Addy on Feb. 20. The pandemic forced postponement of shows by Kate Campbell and John Kirk, Rory Block, Tom Rush, Tom Paxton, Gangstagrass, and Suede.
Show time is 7 p.m. General Admission is $20, $30 for groups, $10 for students, $5 for unemployed/laid-off folks and $50 for music supporters.