Based in Durham, North Carolina, singer/guitarist Jake Xerxes Fussell emerged from a background steeped in the traditional music and folklore of the American South. His William Tyler-produced eponymous debut album arrived in 2015 and featured his distinctive fingerstyle playing and unique take on traditional blues and folk songs. Over the next half decade, Fussell’s sound evolved with albums like What In the Natural World (2017) and Out of Sight (2019) revealing an increasingly idiosyncratic approach full of gentle mirth and inventive playing. His fourth album, 2022′s Good and Green Again, was the first to feature his own original songs.
The son of a folklorist, curator, and photographer, Fussell led a somewhat rambling childhood traveling with his father to record old bluesmen, study the cultural vernacular, and collaborate with Native American artists. These early ventures into rural academia birthed in him a great interest in music, and by his teenage years he was active in the old-time folk scene of his native Columbus, Georgia and apprenticing with regional blues guitar legend Precious Bryant. Over the coming years, his studies would take him to California, Mississippi, and eventually Durham, North Carolina. He honed his guitar skills sitting in with countless artists and bands, appearing on A Prairie Home Companion, and touring with Rev. John Wilkins.
In 2014, he met experimental guitarist William Tyler, who agreed to produce Fussell’s first album. Also featuring performances by Tyler, the self-titled debut was recorded in Nashville with an unusual cast of session veterans and released by North Carolina label Paradise of Bachelors. He deepened his study of obscure American material with a second LP, 2017′s What in the Natural World. Its guests included Joan Shelley, Nathan Salsburg, and Mount Moriah’s Casey Toll, among others. Fussell’s third album for Paradise of Bachelors, 2019′s more expansive Out of Sight, featured a full backing band consisting of Libby Rodenbough (violin, vocals), James Anthony Wallace (piano, organ), Nathan Golub (pedal steel), and Nathan Bowles (drums).
Moving into the next decade, Fussell’s unique catalog continued to expand. Produced by James Elkington and featuring an assortment of collaborators like Bonnie "Prince" Billy and Joe Westerlund, 2022′s Good and Green Again marked Fussell’s first entry into original compositions. ~ Timothy Monger