From the Traditional, Something New

This week in Salvation South, we introduce you to Jake Xerxes Fussell, whose music updates Southern songs from long ago.

If you know a little about Southern folklore and the folks who document it, the name Fussell might ring a bell for you.

Fred Fussell has for decades documented and done field recordings of little-heard Southern musicians. His wife, Cathy, is a textile artist who keeps the quilting tradition alive, making works so distinctive that one journalist dubbed her the “grande dame of quilting.” Their daughter, Coulter Fussell, is following in her mother’s needle-and-thread footsteps. And their son is the guitarist and songwriter who is the subject of our lead story today. Jake Xerxes Fussell — across seven years and four albums — has made it his business to plumb the depths of traditional Southern music, unearthing and reinterpreting gems from long ago. 

In his profile of Fussell, our culture warrior Rob Rushin-Knopf makes it clear that the young musicians is doing far more than simply preserving old tunes. “Fussell’s excavations almost inevitably connect to how we live now,” Rob writes. Be sure to read “The Fussell Family Business” — and listen to all the music we’ve added to the story. If you’ve never heard. Fussell’s music before, you’ll be very glad you did.

Rounding out this week’s Salvation South, we have a personal essay from regular contributor George Lancaster recalling the time his family returned to the South after years in Japan, dropping George into a Georgia middle school. His memories of the de facto segregation that lingered in the 1970s are instructive. And finally, we’ve got a delicious poem from North Carolina scribe Sam Barbee, recalling a long-ago night of young love that got interrupted by some threatening Southern characters.

Happy reading and listening!


About the author

 | Website

Chuck Reece is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Salvation South, the weekly web magazine you're reading right now. He was the founding editor of The Bitter Southerner. He grew up in the north Georgia mountains in a little town called Ellijay.

Leave a Comment