Jake Blount (1995-present) is a remarkably gifted banjo and fiddle player, singer, songwriter, and scholar who expertly blends the stories of queer people and People of Color with old-time music in a modern modality. His style often looks to the historical past, and Jake grew up in Washington D.C. amongst many pieces of America’s tenuous history.
At age 12 he picked up the electric guitar, going on to play in local bands throughout his adolescence. On a fateful day when he was just 16, Jake heard Megan Jean and the KFB playing acoustic music in an Ethiopian restaurant. He was struck by their use of clawhammer banjo and their independence as full-time musicians, both of which helped inspire him to start playing acoustically.
A couple years later, Blount enrolled at Hamilton College to pursue a degree in Ethnomusicology with a focus on early African-American folk music. There he met Dr. Lydia Hamessley, who would go on to be his advisor as well as his mentor for banjo playing and old-time music. He picked up the fiddle in 2014 and continued to fully immerse himself in string band music and the music of Black communities in America. From there, Jake teamed up with his band the Moose Whisperers to compete in and ultimately win Clifftop Festival’s traditional band contest.
In 2017, Blount graduated with a B.A. in Ethnomusicology and released his debut EP, ‘Reparations’, with fiddler Tatiana Hargreaves. Since then, he’s released collaborative work with fiddle player Libby Weitnauer under the moniker Tui and a critically-acclaimed solo album, ‘Spider Tales’, that debuted at #2 on the Billboard Bluegrass Chart. He continues to be involved in the queer old-time community as a board member of Bluegrass Pride, and most recently received the Steve Martin Banjo Prize in 2020.