Flower Child.


Fussell has a deep respect and affinity for the Southern folk vernacular, though he also maintains his childlike awe for it. [What in the Natural World] marks a move into more existential questions … vignettes of Southern life, with an open-hearted groove that would please scholars and little kids alike—Fussell’s burly, winking voice is made for storytelling. – NPR Music

A singular combination of pedigree, experience, education, and talent. – The Oxford American

It’s difficult to imagine another contemporary interpreter delivering a tale of desperation and sadness with such tenderness, warmth, and grace. The room he leaves for the song to breathe allows it to flourish into its own fully-formed, nuanced world – one as familiar today as during the time of its origin. Here, Fussell taps into those roots and in turn carries the pathos across an entire century, creating something wholly his own. No small feat and just one of the many exhibits that display a truth as absolute as the suffering in this song: Jake Xerxes Fussell is a national treasure. – Aquarium Drunkard

Fussell freely adapts early American roots music, teasing out new melodic subtleties and overseeing small-band arrangements that bring crystalline folk-rock glow to decades-old songs. – Chicago Reader



Leading into the release of Jake Xerxes Fussell’s sophomore album, What in the Natural World, out March 31st, the Durham, North Carolina singer and guitarist is presenting the third single and album opener, “Jump For Joy.” The minimally arranged track (from Duke Ellington’s eponymous 1941 “Sun-Tanned Revu-sical”) anchors side A with an achingly bittersweet mood of yearning, transforming its absurdist lyrics about “groovy pastures” into an affecting statement about mortality, freedom, and the distant promise of paradise. Nathan Bowles accompanies on piano. Listen above, below, or via Flood.

I learned “Jump For Joy” from hearing the original 1941 recording by Duke Ellington’s orchestra with the vocal by Ivie Anderson. I was completely captivated by that record the first time I heard it, and I must have have listened to it at least a hundred times before I even thought about playing it myself. I’ve since heard other versions by Peggy Lee, Cannonball Adderly, and some other folks, but none have gotten me like that first recording. After listening to the recording many times, I read about how it was the title piece to a musical that Ellington had put together, way ahead of its time in many ways, though I suppose it was something of a commercial flop. Not long after I moved to North Carolina, I started incorporating that song into my own set when I would play shows around town. I didn’t know if it was something I should play or not…I wouldn’t normally have attempted to play something like Duke Ellington, at least not in public. But I soon found that my little skeletal version of that song held up in its own little way. Wherever I play it, people seem to respond to it. I’m glad they like my version, but I also hope it’ll make them listen to more Duke Ellington.  – Jake Xerxes Fussell     

Flood Magazine’s Will Schube describes it thusly:

The otherworldly guitar player has an innate ability to infuse traditional folk songs and older works with a revived sense of purpose, a freshly calibrated compass. It’s an album of lost and forgotten folk ballads revived and resuscitated with surgical touch and precision. 

Fussell will open two nights for Wilco at New York’s Beacon Theatre later this month, followed by a spring UK and EU tour co-headlining with Daniel Bachman and then a summer US tour in support of Joan Shelley with Nathan Salsburg (full list of dates below).

The record release show will be March 31 at Nightlight in Chapel Hill, NC with Sarah Louise and assorted Carolina Soul and PoB DJs. Jake will perform with a full band including Nathan Bowles, Nathan Golub, and Casey Toll.




Other ways to support this release:  Bandcamp  (LP/CD/all digital formats) |  Digital (MP3/streaming)



N.B. To celebrate What in the Natural World, Jake’s s/t debut will be on sale for $15 LP/$10 CD/$5 MP3/$23 LP+CD+MP3 until the new record releases on March 31. Listen at the bottom of this page.



Jake Xerxes Fussell US Tour Dates

March 21 & 22 – New York, NY @ Beacon Theatre w/ Wilco
March 26 – Peace Dale, RI @ Roots Hoot (house concert)
March 31 – Chapel Hill, NC @ Nightlight (full band Record Release show) w/ Sarah Louise + PoB and Carolina Soul DJs
April 8 – Oxford, MS @ End of All Music (in-store) w/Nathan Bowles
April 8 – Oxford, MS @ Proud Larry’s w/Nathan Bowles

May 31 – Bloomington, IN @ The Bishop*
June 1 – Milwaukee, WI @ Collectivo*
June 2 – Minneapolis, MN @ Bryant Lake Bowl*
June 3 – Chicago, IL @ Old Town*
June 4 – Cedar Rapids, IA @ CSPH Hall*
June 6 – Des Moines, IA @ Vaudeville Mews*
June 7 – Kansas City, MO @ Knuckleheads*
June 8 – St. Louis, MO @ KDHX Stage*
June 9 – Paducah @ Maiden Alley Cinema*
June 10 – Louisville, KY @ Headliners*
June 11 – Nashville, TN @ The Basement*
June 13 – Decatur, GA @ Eddie’s Attic*
June 14 – Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle*
June 15 – Vienna, VA @ Jammin’ Java*
June 16 – Freehold, NJ @ Concerts in the Studio*
June 17 – Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall*
June 18 – Northampton, MA @ Parlor Room*
June 20 – Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle*

*supporting Joan Shelley


Jake Xerxes Fussell EU/UK Tour Dates

April 21 – Berlin – Nogatklause
22 – Hannover – Oberdeck
23 – Bonn – Kreuzung an St. Helena
24 – Wiesbaden – Wakker am Wallufer Platz
25 – Koln – TBA
26 – Dusseldorf – Nimbus
27 – Paris – Le Zorba
28 – Bexhill On Sea – Music’s Not Dead
29 – Totnes – Unit 23 Totnes
30 – Bristol – Centrespace Gallery
May 1 – London – Café OTO
2 – Cambridge – The Blue Moon
3 – Nottingham – TBA
4 – Clun – The Sun Inn
5 – Liverpool – HUS
6 – Todmorden – TBA
7 – Sheffield – Broomhall Community Centre
8 – Stirling – Tolbooth Stirling
9 – Glasgow – The Glad Cafe

*All dates with Daniel Bachman






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The Lizard King.