Sam Harris

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Not to be confused with Broadway performers, Motown singers, or football tacklers of the same name, Sam Harris was an early country blues rhythm guitarist who followed bassist partner Marco Washington…
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Not to be confused with Broadway performers, Motown singers, or football tacklers of the same name, Sam Harris was an early country blues rhythm guitarist who followed bassist partner Marco Washington into the ranks of the Dallas String Band, an innovative black string band that was a big part of the Texas blues scene of the late '20s. Harris' background was about as blues-drenched as one could get, including a stint with the early combos of Sonny Boy Williamson I or John Lee Williamson.

Yet the Dallas String Band was hardly a straight blues band, playing a wide variety of ragtime and pop material and featuring a dual mandolin lineup on just under a dozen sides cut for Columbia, as well as an even larger and more unusual instrumentation including violin, trumpet, and clarinet, that never made it into the recording studio. The third founding member of the band was Coley Jones, a bluesman who started out playing guitar in minstrel shows before switching to mandolin. Blind Lemon Jefferson was said to have sat in with the band from time to time, and Jones later replaced Harris with none other than the legendary T-Bone Walker, either the nephew or stepson of playing partner Washington, depending on who is telling the tale. The group concocted several original numbers that have lived on through a variety of cover versions, including the lively "Dallas Blues," a finger-picking feature for Stefan Grossman, and others: the corny "Hokum Blues" and the lovely "Chasin' Rainbows," which was covered by Robert Crumb's Cheap Suit Serenaders.