Free Dirt Records

Jake Blount is an award-winning banjo and fiddle player based in Providence, R.I., whose awards include becoming the first black artist to win the annual Appalachian String Band Music Festival in West Virginia. Blount studies and performs the music of black artists of the Southeast, and even upstate New York. He is joined on the project by Tatiana Hargreaves (fiddle), Nick Gareiss (feet), Rachel Eddy (guitar), Haselden Ciaccio (bass), Jeff Claus (bass-uke), and Judy Hyman (fiddle).

On this release, Blount delves heavily in the music of African-American artists and has selected a number of old-time tunes originating from a variety of sources. “Roustabout” is from Dink Roberts of North Carolina and “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” is a look back at Lead Belly’s “In The Pines.” Another North Carolinian is Manco Sneed, the source for “Old-Timey Gray Eagle” and “Done Gone.” New Yorker Judy Hyman was the source for “Beyond This Wall,” and “Boll Weevil” comes from Tommy Jarrell via an unknown black woman. “Brown Skin Baby” comes from Jabe Dillon, and “English Chicken” is from Nashville’s Frazier and Patterson.

Most of the selections feature Blount on banjo and Hargreaves on fiddle. The set closes with a bluesy “Mad Mama’s Blues” collected from Josie Miles of Kansas City. Blount has a delightful voice that fits well with his chosen material. The project is an interesting look into the many sources of black old-time music collected by this serious musical scholar. The title of the CD is a nod to the Akan folklore trickster named Anansi, featured in many West African cultures. (Free Dirt Records, P.O. Box 60015, Washington, DC 20039, www.freedirt.net.)BF

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