They all sang "Happy Birthday" to Minneapolis music legend Cornbread Harris — 200-plus fans who had just watched the 95-year-old pianist sing for two hours, along with one very special guest.
Jimmy Jam Harris, the hitmaking producer who was just named to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, joined his father on stage Friday night at the Hook & Ladder Theater in Minneapolis after decades of estrangement.
So there were two reasons to celebrate. Father and son reunited last year with help from Twin Cities music journalist Andrea Swensson, who's writing a book about Cornbread and introduced the pair at Friday's event.
Jimmy Jam sat next to Swensson in the audience, beaming as his dad played his inimitable mix of familiar and forgotten blues and jazz standards with a seven-piece band. Then he took a seat at a keyboard next to his father's, playing tentatively at first, then finding his way as he contributed funky organ counterpoint to Cornbread's piano.
It was his dad's turn to beam as he called on his son to take a solo. The elder Harris was visibly moved when the night came to a close. With Jimmy Jam standing beside him, he thanked the audience:
"I'm gonna play the blues going out, the same one I played comin' in. Before I start the blues here, I just want you to say, 'Good night, Cornbread.'"
"Good night, Cornbread!" the crowd shouted back.