BÉLA FLECK & ABIGAIL WASHBURN
- 23 July Tuesday 8:00 PM
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Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn, “the king and queen of the banjo” (Paste Magazine),
have a musical partnership like no other. Béla Fleck is a fifteen-time Grammy Award
winner who has taken the instrument across multiple genres, and Abigail Washburn a
singer-songwriter and clawhammer banjo player who re-radicalized it by combining it
with Far East culture and sounds. The two met at a square dance, began
collaborating musically and eventually fell in love. Over the years, they played
together most visibly in the Sparrow Quartet alongside Ben Sollee and Casey Driessen and informally at a pickin’ party here, a benefit there, or occasionally popping up in each other’s solo shows. Fans of tradition-tweaking acoustic fare eagerly anticipated that Béla & Abigail would begin making music together as a duo.
Fleck has the virtuosic, jazz-to-classical ingenuity of an iconic instrumentalist and
composer with bluegrass roots. His collaborations range from his ground-breaking
standard-setting ensemble Béla Fleck and the Flecktones to a staggeringly broad
array of musical experiments. From writing concertos for full symphony orchestra,
exploring the banjo’s African roots, to jazz duos with Chick Corea, many tout that Béla
Fleck is the world’s premier banjo player. Washburn has the earthy sophistication of a
postmodern, old-time singer-songwriter who has drawn critical acclaim for her solo
albums. She has done fascinating work in folk musical diplomacy in China, presented
an original theatrical production, and has contributed to singular side groups Uncle
Earl and The Wu-Force. In addition to being named a TED Fellow in 2012, Abigail was
recently named the first US-China Fellow at Vanderbilt University, in addition to
Carolina Performing Arts/Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's DisTil Fellow for 2018-2020.
On stage, Fleck & Washburn will perform pieces from their Grammy-winning self-titled
debut as well as their new record, Echo in the Valley (Rounder 2017). With one eye on
using the banjo to showcase America’s rich heritage and the other pulling the noble
the instrument from its most familiar arena into new and unique realms, Bela & Abigail
meet in the mean, head-on, to present music that feels wildly innovative and familiar at
the same time. Whether at home, on stage or on record, their deep bond, combined
with the way their distinct musical personalities and banjo styles interact, makes theirs
a picking partnership unlike any other on the planet.