“Ever since I met him years ago, Jake Blount has been aiming to tell the whole story of fiddle and banjo music – black, white, and native. His latest album… is an incredible example of historically informed, beautifully played old-time music. — Rhiannon Giddens
Jake Blount is an award-winning banjoist, fiddler, singer, and ethnomusicologist based in Providence, RI. He is half of the internationally touring duo Tui, a 2020 recipient of the Steve Martin Banjo Prize, and a board member of Bluegrass Pride. He is a two-time winner and many-time finalist of the Appalachian String Band Music Festival (better known as Clifftop). Blount specializes in the music of Black communities in the southeastern United States, and in the regional style of the Finger Lakes. A versatile performer, Blount interpolates blues, bluegrass, and spirituals into the old-time string band tradition he belongs to. He foregrounds the experiences of queer people and people of color in his work. His teachers include Rhiannon Giddens, Bruce Molsky, and Judy Hyman. Blount has shared his music and research at the Newport Folk Festival, the Smithsonian Institution, and Yale University, among other venues and institutions. He has also appeared on Radiolab, Soundcheck and NPR’s Weekend Edition. He regularly teaches fiddle and banjo at festivals and camps like the Augusta Heritage Center, the Ashokan Center, and Midwest Banjo Camp. Blount tours domestically and internationally as a solo performer, with his duo Tui, and with his band The Moose Whisperers. He has performed and recorded solo, and in ensembles of up to six people. His first full-length solo album, Spider Tales, is out now on Free Dirt Records & Service Co. It debuted at #2 on the Billboard Bluegrass Chart, received positive coverage from NPR, Rolling Stone, and Billboard among others, and earned five out of five stars as The Guardian’s Folk Album of the Month. Spider Tales later appeared on “Best of 2020” lists from NPR, Bandcamp, The New Yorker, the Guardian, and elsewhere. the blues of Bessie Smith and Lonnie Johnson.”
“[In her playing,] an intense involvement is revealed as the music appears to wash over her. She sings of experiences way beyond her years, old songs from Appalachian sources, stories that reflect a more difficult way of life.”– John Cohen, Musicologist, photographer, filmmaker, and founding member of the New Lost City Ramblers
Nora Brown started learning music at the age of 6 from the late Shlomo Pestcoe. From his studio apartment in Brooklyn, Pestcoe instilled in her the belief that music is meant to be shared. Nora plays old-time traditional music with a particular interest in eastern Kentucky and Tennessee banjo playing. Along with the banjo she’s interested in techniques of unaccompanied ballads form the Southeast region of the United States.
She has played at numerous venues and festivals on the East Coast including TED salon in NYC, Joe’s Pub, the Floyd Radio Show, Washington Square Park Folk Festival, Brooklyn Folk Festival, Brooklyn Americana Festival, Oldtone Roots Music Festival, Irvington Folk Festival, Summer & Winter Hoots at the Ashokan Center, and has had multiple month long residencies at famed Barbès in Brooklyn NY. Nora has taught both beginning and advanced banjo classes at the Ashokan Center’s long standing old-time camp known as Southern Week in Olivebridge, NY. Nora continues to travel and learn from old masters and has taken regular trips to eastern Kentucky to visit with 90 year old master banjo player and former coal miner Lee Sexton and master banjo player and historian George Gibson. In October 2019 Jalopy Records released Nora’s first album of 11 traditional songs and tunes called Cinnamon Tree. It was produced by the legendary Alice Gerrard and pressed by Third Man Pressing in Detroit.
In September 2021 Jalopy Records released Nora’s EP of 7 traditional songs and tunes called Sidetrack My Engine. It was recorded in mono in an underground brick arched space in Brooklyn NY, using an Ampex tape machine and vintage RCA ribbon mics from BigTone Records. 10” vinyl Pressed by United Record Pressing in Nashville.
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