The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music’s Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It’s the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.
Maia Stern | January 25, 2022
Jake Xerxes Fussell’s Tiny Desk (home) concert opens with the eyebrow raising lyric, “I’ve got fresh fish this morning, ladies. They are gilded with gold and you may find a diamond in their mouths.” It was originally sung by a fishmonger in Florida and captured in a field recording. Coming from Fussell, it sounds as lived-in as his worn Telecaster looks. It’s immediate, but somehow out-of-time. Fussell found the tune at the Library of Congress, part of his process of collecting and curating traditional, public domain folk songs, and reinterpreting them through his own lens.
Fussell recorded at a friend’s home in Pittsboro, N.C., with Casey Toll on upright bass and Libby Rodenbough on violin, harmonium and backup vocals. The mantle behind them is adorned with a tiny desk surrounded by various vegetable-shaped candles. It looks so cozy in there, and makes me a little hungry just in time for the second song, “Have You Ever Seen Peaches Growing on a Sweet Potato Vine?” To me, this playful lyric evokes a smiling child asking a tough question. The three conjure up a lush instrumental that pairs perfectly with Fussell’s burly voice.
The final song in their performance is “Breast of Glass,” a fresh track from Fussell’s new album, Good and Green Again, on which the singer and guitarist continues to learn from and breathe new life into old, obscure folk songs. The record also includes three original instrumentals by Fussell himself to round out the collection.
“The River St. Johns”
“Have You Ever Seen Peaches Growing on a Sweet Potato Vine?”
“Breast of Glass”
Jake Xerxes Fussell: guitar, vocals
Libby Rodenbough: violin, harmonium, backing vocals
Casey Toll: upright bass
Direction and editing: Jesse Paddock
Video: Jesse Paddock, Ishmael Abdelkhalek, John Law
Audio: Jason Richmond
Production: Brendan Greaves for Paradise of Bachelors
Special thanks to Lindsey Alexander and Salvatore Borriello
TINY DESK TEAM
Producer: Maia Stern
Video Producer: Maia Stern
Audio Mastering: Josh Rogosin
Tiny Production Team: Bob Boilen, Bobby Carter, Kara Frame, Joshua Bryant, Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis
Executive Producer: Keith Jenkins
Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann