The music industry defines Corey Harris as a blues guitarist, but as the audience in Sargent Gym found out last Friday night, Harris's music goes beyond the traditional definition of the blues. With the help of drummer Johnny Gilmore, Harris infused his show with reggae, Cajun, and world music flavors to create his unique version of the blues.

Harris, who was born in Denver and now lives in Virginia, gained fame recently thanks to the PBS documentary Martin Scorcese Presents the Blues. In his piece on Harris, Scorcese filmed him visiting Ali Farka Toure, an African blues guitarist who mixes American blues and the Arab-influenced style of his home country, Mali. Around the world, Toure is known as "the king" of African blues. Harris later returned to collaborate with Toure on his latest album, Mississippi to Mali.

Before his appearance on Scorcese's miniseries, Harris shared a stage with artists such as B.B. King, Ben Harper, Dave Matthews Band, Natalie Merchant, String Cheese Incident, and many others. Before his show at Bowdoin, Harris and Gilmore played Buddy Guy's Legends show in Chicago. Though Gilmore said that Buddy Guy himself didn't make it to the show, it wasn't a huge loss for the duo; Guy was already on Harris's impressive list of musicians.

During the show, Harris showed that he could apply his Bates anthropology degree to music, alternating between traditional blues and the different types of world music. One minute, his riffs featured a tinge of B.B. King or Eric Clapton, but in the next, Harris moved to the sounds of Toots and the Maytals or Bob Marley.

He appeared onstage wearing a huge yellow hat, which hid the dreadlocks piled on top of his head. Harris then proved that he wasn't carrying his guitar only as an instrument; he also had his voice. He belted out the songs with amazing clarity and volume. His guitar skills matched his vocal talent. Harris's fingers moved with blistering speed and deft skill across the frets. His guitar wasn't the only thing that was hot on Friday night: the heat in Sargent forced Harris to go through several bottles of water, and sweat flew off his forehead starting with the second song.

Though many of his albums are acoustic, Harris chose to plug in for the Bowdoin show, adding a new element to his set. Before he played many of the African songs, Harris announced that he learned them from "the master," referring to Toure. Harris also went outside of Mississippi and Mali and sang in French on "L'Espirit De James." A few of his songs carried a Cajun beat, reflecting Harris's collaboration with New Orleans pianist Henry Butler on his album Vu Du Menz. There were seats for the crowd, but a group of students chose to get up and dance during Harris's set. The crowd especially enjoyed Harris's reggae numbers, including "Funky Money" and "Money on My Mind."

Harris closed the show with a rousing Cajun-style track, starting his own blues stomp to match the dancing crowd of students. After his performance, Harris stayed to talk to students and community members, sell live CD's, and sign autographs. He may be a Bates graduate, but the audience was glad he came to Bowdoin on his return trip to Maine.