For as long as it's existed, the American roots music industry has co-opted Black music into a package to be marketed and resold, defanging or erasing perspectives deemed too threatening along the way.
Banjo player and fiddler Jake Blount resurrects these deep musical strains on 'Spider Tales', his debut record, on Free Dirt Records.
Named for Anansi - the great trickster of Akan mythology - 'Spider Tales' features fourteen carefully chosen tracks drawn from Blount's extensive research of Black and Indigenous mountain music.
The result is an unprecedented testament to the voices paradoxically obscured yet profoundly ingrained into the Appalachian tradition.
With a history of hardship and resistance coded into the music, 'Spider Tales' brings out centuries of visceral feeling refracted again through the lens of Blount's own experience as an LGBTQ activist and key figure in an emerging wave of queer roots musicians.
The album's sound is appropriately haunted - spinning through "crooked" instrumental tunes, modal keys, stark songs, and confounding melodic structures - and its lyrics range from despairing to violent to downright apocalyptic.
Blount is joined by his musical peers Tatiana Hargreaves, Nic Gareiss, Rachel Eddy, and Haselden Ciaccio on the album, which was produced by Jeff Claus and Judy Hyman (The Horse Flies).
Altogether, 'Spider Tales' is a beautiful, masterfully performed, and thematically intense first statement into the transforming canon of American roots music.