Home»Sound»An Academic, Activist and Achieved Americana Musician: Jake Blount Uses His Banjo To Blend Beauty and History

An Academic, Activist and Achieved Americana Musician: Jake Blount Uses His Banjo To Blend Beauty and History

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At first blush, it may seem like a goofball joke, the Steve Martin Banjo Award. But for those who haven’t updated their Steve Martin knowledge since his wild-and-crazy days, you may still vaguely remember that the comedian often stood on stage with a banjo. Since then, though, Martin has amassed a stand-alone career as a premier banjo player (5 Emmys) and as a patron of the instrument, bestowing a cash award each year for the past 12 to an up-and-coming banjo player and, in the process, helping preserve and nurture interest in an instrument at the heart of Americana.

All of which is to say: Jake Blount is one of the most recent recipients of the Steve Martin Banjo Award (in 2020).

And, all of which is also to say: Blount plays in Ashland on April 16, and it is a must-see show.

The Steve Martin Award is simply an acknowledgement of Blount’s talent. Over the past several years, the 26-year old musician has been steadily amassing acknowledgement as a smart, sincere and seductive banjo player—and with good reason, he draws intently from what he calls “the black music canon” and branches those into beautiful renditions. In 2020, his debut solo album, Spider Tales, jumped to number two on the Billboard Bluegrass Chart—which, again, is simply a marker about his talent.

Ultimately, Blount should not be solo labeled as a banjo player, as he is as apt to pick up a fiddle or harmonize. Similarly, although a strong voice for queer rights and for preserving traditional Black American music, identifying him as a queer man and Black man are simply starting points for his what seems like prolific influences, interests and talents. He seems as likely to be sharing academic ethnomusicology at the Smithsonian as standing on stage at Newport Folk Festival.

Again, all of which is to say: A not-to-miss show in Ashland.


Ashland Folk Collective presents Jake Blount w/ AJ Lee & Blue Summit 

Ashland, OR – The Folk Collective

La Baguette Music Café, 340 A Street

7 pm Saturday, April 16

$25 (kids 12 & under free)



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