Co-presented with the National Humanities Center
Read more about “North Carolina: The New American Heartland” at
Roots Uprooted (North Americana String Bands in North Carolina)
From soul to jazz to indie rock, North Carolina is known internationally as a crucible of American vernacular music, and the traditions of string-based roots music, or “Americana”—a constellation of styles that encompasses old-time, string band, bluegrass, country, rockabilly, and country-rock—are among those that have most captivated the popular imagination, coming to represent the state’s composite musical identity. Likewise, the music of recent arrivals and immigrants has always been an important feature in the landscape of North Carolina music, and increasingly so as the demographics of the state change rapidly. These three acts represent a fascinating cross-section of string band music and its contemporary iterations and mutations within the firmament of Southern roots music, one portrait of “North Americana” in North Carolina.
Jake Xerxes Fussell and Nathan Bowles
As a teenager, Durham, North Carolina singer and guitarist Jake Xerxes Fussell began playing and studying with elder musicians in the Chattahoochee Valley, apprenticing with Piedmont blues legend Precious Bryant (“Georgia Buck”) and riding wild with Alabama bluesman, black rodeo rider, rye whiskey distiller, and master dowser George Daniel (“Rabbit on a Log”). Fussell’s self-titled debut record, produced by and featuring William Tyler, transmutes ten arcane folk and blues tunes into vibey cosmic laments and crooked riverine rambles.
Nathan Bowles is a multi-instrumentalist musician and teacher living in the Piedmont of North Carolina. His work, both as an accomplished solo artist and as a sought-after ensemble player, explores the rugged country between the poles of Appalachian old-time traditions and ecstatic, minimalist drone.
This performance offers an exciting opportunity to witness a collaborative set by these two local luminaries.
House and Land
Multi-instrumentalists Sally Anne Morgan (of the Black Twig Pickers) and Sarah Louise Henson play haunting psychedelic Appalachian folk drone that invokes the rhododendron thickets, creeks and mountains of their local landscape in Western North Carolina. Their masterful use of drone, improvisation, minimalism and microtonality draws both from traditional Appalachian folk styles and modern classical composers and reflects their shared love of experimental music.
Trío Huracán Hidalguense
Son huasteco is a traditional string-band style—usually performed by trios of guitarra quinta huapanguera, Jarana huasteca, and violin—originating in La Huasteca, a region in east-central Mexico that includes the states of Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Puebla, Hidalgo, San Luis Potosí, Querétaro, and Guanajuato. Its vibrant practice and contemporary influence now extends into North Carolina with groups such as Trío Huracán Hidalguense.