Join us at the Center to celebrate the release of Jake Xerxes Fussell’s debut solo album from local record label Paradise of Bachelors. Jake will perform some selections from his self-titled album, produced by and featuring William Tyler. Acclaimed Durham guitarist Daniel Bachman will also play a special solo set for the occasion. Now a Durham resident, Fussell grew up in Columbus, GA.
As Jake explains it, “the Southern half of the Georgia-Alabama border follows the Chattahoochee River, which cleaves Columbus from its decidedly less reputable neighbor, Phenix City, Alabama. Georgia’s second city is the hometown of ‘Mother of the Blues’ Ma Rainey and novelist Carson McCullers, but it was local hillbilly duo Darby and Tarlton’s 1927 hit ‘Columbus Stockade Blues’ that first immortalized Columbus in popular culture. Back in their day, if you ended up in lockup in Columbus, chances are you did your dirtiest deeds across the river.”
Jake is the son of Fred C. Fussell, a folklorist, curator, and photographer who hails from Phenix City. Fred’s fieldwork took him (sometimes with Jake) across the Southeast documenting traditional vernacular culture, which included recording blues and old-time musicians with fellow folklorists George Mitchell and Art Rosenbaum, as well as collaborating with American Indian artists, which eventually led to Jake’s graduate research on Choctaw fiddlers.
As a teenager, Jake played and studied under elder musicians in the Chattahoochee Valley, including Piedmont blues legend Precious Bryant (“Georgia Buck”) and Alabama bluesman George Daniel (“Rabbit on a Log”). He later accompanied Etta Baker in North Carolina, studied with Will Scarlett and Steve Mann in Berkeley, earned a degree in Southern Studies from Oxford (Mississippi), recorded and toured with Rev. John Wilkins, and, last year, met up with acclaimed artist William Tyler to begin recording his first solo album. The album drops on January 27th, and we can’t wait to hear it. You can listen to a single of “Raggy Levy” here.
This lecture is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.