Born in Dayton, Ohio, Jesse Jacob Anderson knew the irresistable pull of Primitive American Music the second he heard it. Finding his father listening to an old Leadbelly record in the basement one day, the sound transfixed him. He pawed through his family’s record collection and found trails of a rich and exciting, yet widely unknown, pantheon of incredible music. “I went through all the music stores and libraries in town and come home with piles of CDs,” says Jesse. “It was a lucky time because most of the old recordings were just beginning to see the light of day on CD.” The music he found included such legendary artists as Charlie Patton, Bascom Lunsford, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Uncle Dave Macon, Blind Willie Mctell, and Blind Blake – those who would form the inspiration for Jesse’s playing and singing for years to come.

Moving to Flagstaff, Arizona in 1998, Jesse happened upon clawhammer banjoist Eric Souders playing at a local bookstore. The two soon joined some friends and formed a contra dance band that traveled throughout the Southwest. “The dance tunes that we played were mostly from the southern old time tradition that I had been listening to in those early recordings,” said Jesse. It was his first chance to bring their crackly obscurity to life.

Jesse honed his craft and began playing on The Grand Canyon Railway in 2004. The old songs he knew fit in perfectly with the feel of the train ride. “It really is one of the most unique gigs that exists in this day and age. I’m not playing in some public library somewhere or giving a lecture at a folk music gathering – I’m playing for people that have come to see The Grand Canyon and aren’t expecting to hear some song written by a hobo in 1884. It forces me to bring the music to life.

Jesse’s performances and repoirtoire have matured to a point that he is becoming one of the Mountain Southwest’s foremost interpreters of rural American Styles from the Early 20th Century. Matching masterful instrumental ability with dynamic singing, Jesse’s performances are highlighted by his energetic and authentic delivery, which retains and enhances the spirit and power of the songs he sings. “What I really aspire for in my shows is not making people feel like it’s 1929, but making them feel like it doesn’t matter what year it is. I believe this music rings true for all times.