The first concert in over 18 months was held Saturday, October 16th at the Common Fence Point Community Center in Portsmouth. 2021 Newport Folk Festival artist Jake Blount and his band provided a clinic in traditional American music, thoroughly impressing those in attendance at the intimate venue.

The show was even more impressive knowing that Blount lost two members of his band in the days leading up to the concert, one to injury and another to illness. He responded by quickly pulling together a talented quartet which included guests Isa Burke of Lula Wiles and Maddie Witler of Della Mae. Bassist Nelson Williams rounded out the band, keeping the rhythm solid throughout the show.

Many of the songs played came from Blount’s recently released CD, Spider Tales, which came out at the beginning of the pandemic – he’s just “touring” it now. The band’s live show mixes instrumentals with lyric-driven compositions, many that reside deep in roots/bluegrass/Americana songbook.

Blount’s banjo and fiddle skills are top-notch, and his mid-range vocals bring the stories to life. The show featured tunes from well-known artists like Alberta Hunter, Bill Monroe and Leadbelly, who’s “Where did you Sleep Last Night” sounded as haunting as always. Others, like the traditonal “John Henry,” the “most recorded folk song in American history,” were more upbeat.

Although not overtly political, many of these songs give voice to the underrepresented and underserved in America’s past and present. Blount’s work supporting LGBTQ+ advocacy as a Board Member of Bluegrass Pride, furthers that mission and challenges preconceived notions about Bluegrass music.

Up next for Common Fence Music – S.G. Goodman on October 30th, with tickets available here. Meanwhile, check out a few pics from the show below.

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Ken Abrams

Lifestyle Editor Ken Abrams writes about music and more for What'sUpNewp, Providence Monthly, SO RI, and The Bay. He DJ's "The Kingston Coffeehouse" Tuesday nights, 6-9 PM on WRIU 90.3 FM.