The first concert in over 18 months took place on Saturday October 16 at the Common Fence Point Community Center in Portsmouth. 2021 Newport Folk Festival artist Jake Blount and his band offered a traditional American music clinic, wowing those in attendance at this intimate venue.
The show was even more impressive considering that Blount lost two members of his band in the days leading up to the concert, one to injury and the other to illness. He responded by quickly assembling a talented quartet that included guests Isa Burke from Lula Wiles and Maddie Witler from Della Mae. Bassist Nelson Williams rounded out the group, keeping the rhythm solid throughout the show.
Most of the songs played are from the recently released Blount CD, Spider Tales, which came out early in the pandemic – it’s just ‘spinning’ it now. The band’s live show mixes instrumentals with lyric-driven compositions, many of which are deeply rooted in the roots / bluegrass / Americana song repertoire.
Blount’s banjo and violin skills are top notch, and his mid-range voice brings the stories to life. The show featured tunes from well-known artists like Alberta Hunter, Bill Monroe and Leadbelly, whose “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” sounded just as haunting as ever. Others, like the traditional “John Henry,” the “most recorded folk song in American history,” were more optimistic.
While not overtly political, many of these songs give voice to underrepresented and underserved people in America’s past and present. Blount’s work supporting LGBTQ + advocacy as a member of the Bluegrass Pride Board of Directors, reinforces this mission and challenges preconceived notions about Bluegrass music.
Coming up for Common Fence Music – SG Goodman on October 30, with tickets available here. In the meantime, check out some photos from the show below.