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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 Strathmore Artist in Residence and a board member of Bluegrass Pride. He is a 2020 recipient of the Steve Martin Banjo Prize. 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. He has claimed first place in both the Banjo and the Traditional Band categories at the prestigious Appalachian String Band Music Festival in Clifftop, WV. Blount has shared his music and research at the Smithsonian Institution, Yale University, and Berklee School of Music, 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.
The Moon Shells—Maggie Shar, Brian Slattery, Laura Murawski, Molly Merrett, and Charlie Shaw—draw from the traditional music of Appalachia, Louisiana, West Africa and elsewhere to try to make something new. Whether performing as an acoustic stringband, a stripped-down trio, or a five-piece making modern sounds on traditional instruments at clubs and festivals, the Moon Shells move hearts and feet.
In 2019 they released two albums—Seaside Asylum, an album of original songs and tunes, and Screech Plank, an album of more traditional fiddle tunes. The Hartford Courant named Seaside Asylum one of its favorite regional albums of 2019. Their next album of original songs, House of Air, came out in 2020 to similar acclaim. Both albums have gotten radio airplay throughout New England. The band is currently at work on its next albums.