This summer, Jake Blount ’17 worked at the Augusta Heritage Center, one of the most renowned and successful traditional music and arts education organizations in the nation.
The Center runs five weeks of programming from early July until mid-August. Each week has one or two musical themes, ranging from Irish to Appalachian and more. The very best musicians and artists in the business instruct the students while hosting nightly dances and jams.
Blount served as the social media assistant and box office intern. His job was to formulate and implement a new social media marketing campaign for this summer’s programs, as well as to sell and ship tickets to the dozens of concerts the Center hosted this summer. His internship was supported by Summer Internship Funding 2016, managed by the Career Center.
He originally discovered this organization last year during Old-Time Week. “I took classes with the GRAMMY-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops, and I was deeply intrigued by the program’s integrated approach to the subject matter. Rather than just learning tunes, I was taught how to interpret tunes and recognize and embody different musical characteristics of the African-American string band tradition,” Blount recalled. “It was a stimulating experience for me as both an artist and an academic.”
He thus wanted to give back to the organization that inspired him just one year earlier. He explained, “It’s an amazing organization, but its heyday was in the late 80s and early 90s, and we’re working hard to build it back up to its former stature. I approached my duties each day with that in mind: I love this place, and I want it to be the best it can be.”
For Blount, the students are the most valuable part of his experience working there. “I really love being a part of an organization that can bring this much happiness and fun into people’s lives, and give them opportunities to learn more about the arts and music that they love,” he said. “Although I love playing this music, sharing it with people is the part that makes it fun for me.”
While Blount is unsure about his plans for the future, one thing is certain: “Whichever [path] I choose, I expect traditional music will remain at the center of my life. In that sense, Augusta is deeply related to my future plans. I expect that the friends and the experience I gain here will play a major role in what course I chart out for myself in the future.”