Living legend Cornbread Harris shares stories and songs from his seven-decade career

Share story

Cornbread Harris performs in The Current's studio
Cornbread Harris performs in The Current's studio
Nate Ryan | MPR

This program originally aired on July 7, 2017 and was rebroadcasted on Dec. 27, 2017.

James "Cornbread" Harris, Sr. is a living legend. At 90 years old, the rock 'n' roll pioneer (also known as Jimmy "Jam" Harris, Jr.'s dad) visited The Current's studios to record an in-studio session with Local Show host Andrea Swensson and MPR News host Tom Weber to kick off their Summer Music Series.

Now a nonagenarian, Cornbread still plays a regular gig every Friday at the Loring Pasta Bar and has just released a new album, "Live at Hook and Ladder," featuring songs that span his career. If you've ever had the joy of seeing Cornbread play, you'll know he's also an incredible storyteller, and is ready and willing to regale those around him with stories of his life and career.

Cornbread got his start playing in Augie Garcia's band back in the 1950s, and he explained the origins of their 1955 hit song "Hi Yo Silver" — the first rock 'n' roll record to come out of Minnesota — to Tom and Andrea while deconstructing it for them on the piano.

He also played a newer song he wrote for Jimmy Jam, "Cool Rider," told the story behind his personal anthem, "Cornbread," and debuted a poignant and timely tune called "Put the World Back Together"—all while keeping Tom and Andrea in stitches with his charming personality and wicked sense of humor.

Hear more sessions from this year's Summer Music Series on Friday mornings at 11 a.m., when they will air on Tom Weber's show on MPR News; and on Sunday evenings at 6 p.m., when they will be broadcast on The Current's Local Show.

Songs Performed

• "Cool Rider"

• "Hi Yo Silver"

• "The Cornbread Song"

• "Put The World Back Together"

"Cool Rider" and "The Cornbread Song" available on Cornbread & Friends' 2017 album "Live at the Hook & Ladder." "Hi Yo Silver" released by Augie Garcia in 1955 with Harris on piano. "Put The World Back Together" as yet unreleased.

• Hosted by Andrea Swensson and Tom Weber

• Produced by Andrea Swensson and Tom Weber

• Engineered by Michael DeMark

• Visuals by Nate Ryan

• Words by Andrea Swensson

Before you go...

MPR News is dedicated to bringing you clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives when we need it most. We rely on your help to do this. Your donation has the power to keep MPR News strong and accessible to all during this crisis and beyond.