HEADLINE TOUR UNDERWAY
September 19, 2022—The official music video for acclaimed musician and scholar Jake Blount’s new song, “Didn’t It Rain,” directed by Tadin Brego, is debuting today.
Reflecting on the video, Blount shares, “My version of ‘Didn’t It Rain’ is a homage to Sister Rosetta Tharpe, from whom I first heard the song. From the Gibson SG to the queer church lady aesthetic, I strove to embody Sister Rosetta’s dedication to tradition and craft and her transgressive tendencies – and the tension between the two. This video was filmed in an abandoned World War I fort in Maine’s Casco Bay, in keeping with the concept at the core of The New Faith.”
Ahead of the release, Blount has shared three album tracks: “Didn’t It Rain,” made famous by Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Mahalia Jackson, “The Downward Road,” made famous by singer Jim Williams and well-known ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax, and “Once There Was No Sun,” made familiar by legendary American folk singer Bessie Jones. Of the latter and its accompanying music video, Rolling Stone praises, “a gorgeous clip that belies the endangered state of the planet,” while American Songwriter declares, “it’s a stunner with eye-popping choreography and delightful musicality. It’s a cup of coffee in your otherwise bleary-eyed day.” Additionally, Blount recently wrote an Op-Ed for Rolling Stone titled, “Is It Too Late to Make the Music Industry Sustainable?” where he discusses how both artists and fans can help combat the climate crisis. Read the piece here.
In celebration of the release, Blount will tour through the end of the year with upcoming headline shows at Seattle’s Tractor Tavern, Portland’s Show Bar at Revolution Hall, Los Angeles’ Hotel Café, Brooklyn’s Jalopy Theater, Nashville’s The Analog at the Hutton Hotel, Atlanta’s Eddie Attic, Philadelphia’s World Café Live, Washington DC’s Pearl Street Warehouse, Boston’s Club Passim and New Orleans’s Gasa Gasa among many others. See below for complete itinerary.
A dystopian Afrofuturistic concept album, the record features ten reimagined and reinterpreted traditional Black spirituals across twelve tracks in addition to two original spoken word pieces. Conceived, written and recorded during the darkest months of lockdowns—while Blount himself was still recovering from what he now knows was likely a bout with long COVID—and just after the unrest that followed the murder of George Floyd, the album aims to envision what Black religious music would sound like in a not-so-distant future world devastated by climate change.
Produced by Blount along with Brian Slattery, the album was recorded mainly in Blount’s own bedroom in Providence, RI. In addition to Blount on vocals, fiddle, banjo, bass, percussion and strings and Slattery on percussion, guitar and strings, the album features guest appearances by Demeanor, D’orjay The Singing Shaman, Samuel James, Kaïa Kater, Lizzie No, Mali Obomsawin, Brandi Pace, Rissi Palmer and Lillian Werbin.
Based in Providence, RI, 27-year-old Blount is an award-winning banjoist, fiddler, singer and scholar specializing in the folk traditions of Black and indigenous Americans. In 2020, his debut solo album, Spider Tales, launched at #2 on the Billboard Bluegrass chart and received overwhelming critical praise landing on year-end best of lists at the The New Yorker, NPR Music and more. In addition to his solo work, he is half of the internationally touring duo Tui, a recipient of 2020 the Steve Martin Banjo Prize, a two-time winner of the Appalachian String Band Music Festival (better known as Clifftop) and a founding member of Bluegrass Pride. Blount has performed at the Kennedy Center, the Newport Folk Festival and numerous other venues across and beyond the U.S. He has presented his scholarly work at museums and universities including the Smithsonian Institution, Berklee College of Music and Yale University. His writing has appeared in Paste Magazine, No Depression, and NPR Music.
Smithsonian Folkways Recordings is the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution, the national museum of the United States. The label’s mission is to document music, spoken word, instruction and sounds from around the world, continuing the legacy of Moses Asch, who founded Folkways Records in 1948. The Smithsonian acquired Folkways from the Asch estate in 1987 and Smithsonian Folkways Recordings has continued the Folkways tradition by supporting the work of traditional artists and expressing a commitment to cultural diversity, education and increased understanding among peoples through the production, documentation, preservation and dissemination of sound.