Corey Harris, Greens from the Garden (Alligator)

Joy— pure joy — that’s what you’re dealing with here. Look at Corey on the cover: gravity-defying dreadlocks bound up in a topknot, a big ol’ grin, a blue business suit, a red power tie, a resophonic guitar, standing in a knee-high field of green agriculture. A street musician?

This is a bluesman for the Next Millennium Expressway!

The young, strapped brothers with waistbands worn around their thighs would hear Robert Johnson as: an ancient, creaky artifact. Corey, somewhat nearer the realm of Nas (and Nas’ down home dad, Olv Dara), might be an altogether different story.

His slinky “Wild West,” with soaring vocal accompaniment from Sista Teedy, analyzes cocaine culture down here in Babylon and part of the message is that happiness, for some of our fellow citizens, is a very warm gun.

“Eh La Bas” sounds like Howlin’ Wolf (Capt. Beefheart even) fronting a rhumba band in Hemingway’s Havana. “Pas Parle” is a sweet song to “une belle camerounaise” (Corey once studied pidgin English in West Africa) and “Just A Closer Walk With Thee” is flipped upside down into a pit of bubbling rootsy regae, Harry J. Style.

“NOLA Rage” documents Corey’s certified Vieux Carre roots: Tuba Fats teling Corey that he need to learn “Stardust” to survive the streets of New Orleans, Corey not getting his regular meals, Corey saluting the local legends (James Andrews, Jerry Anderson, the Dirty Dozen, Derek Shezbie, Henry Butler, Herlin Riley) and Corey advising: “Y’all better keep that New Orleans street music now-what’s a tree gonna do without its roots?” Amen!