Join “the king and queen of the banjo” as they perform music from their collective repertoire as well as from their self-titled debut for which they took home the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Folk Album.
Sixteen-time Grammy Award winner Bela Fleck has taken the banjo across multiple genres, and Abigail Washburn has re-radicalized it by combining it with Far East culture and sounds.
“’Big Country’ is one of the most beauty melodies I have ever heard played on the banjo,” says Abigail, who takes the lead on this version.
“Come All You Coal Miners” is the point-of-view of coal-miner advocate Sarah Ogan Gunning, whose passages remain poignant and powerful today.
Washburn’s beguiling composing, playing and singing blend with Fleck’s riveting and virtuosic musicianship to create music both unique yet familiar in texture.
Fleck, a 15-time Grammy winner, has collaborated with Chick Corea, Oumou Sangare, Zakir Hussain, Edgar Meyer, Dave Mathews, Earl Scruggs, and the entire Cleveland Orchestra for his Banjo Concert ‘The Impostor.’ Washburn’s banjo has taken her far beyond the usual old-timey comfort zone, musically and geographically.Fleck and Washburn met at a square dance and began playing music together a dozen years ago, beginning with the Sparrow Quartet.They married shortly thereafter and became parents to a cute little tot.This time around, the mission was to take their double banjo combination of three finger and clawhammer styles “to the next level and find things to do together that we had not done before,” says Béla.“We’re expressing different emotions through past techniques and going to deeper places.” The results are fascinating, especially considering their strict rules for recording: all sounds must be created by the two of them, the only instruments used are banjos (they have seven between them, ranging from a ukulele to an upright bass banjo), and they must be able to perform every recorded song live.The song acknowledges that we must let our children grow up; the concession that youthful innocence will one day give way to adult cares and worries.Clarence Ashley’s “My Home’s Across the Blue Ridge Mountains” has been turned into a rural blues, and Béla’s well-known piece “Big Country” is framed by the traditional Appalachian tunes “Sally in the Garden” and “Molly Put the Kettle On,” a medley Béla and Abigail performed hundreds of times on stage before recording.perform “Shady Grove.” “I was proud to discover that I came from a country where you can hear that ancient sound – from Africa, from Scotland, from Ireland – all mixed up in this beautiful new sound, with those ancient tones in it,” Abigail reflects.“The ancient sounds of our culture remind us who we are, and in them, we see a constellation of who we are becoming.” Washburn has imbued this philosophy in all aspects of her work, from the string band Uncle Earl to her acclaimed solo albums, Song of the Traveling Daughter and City of Refuge, and her semi-autobiographical theatrical work, Post-American Girl, as well as in her musical ambassadorship with China, a country with which she has a long, profound history.Fleck has the distinction of being nominated in more categories than any other instrumentalist in Grammy history, and has brought his banjo through scorching hot newgrass, traditional bluegrass, otherworldly funk, modern jazz, African originals, transatlantic Celtic, and classical realms, with two self-composed banjo concertos to his name (The Impostor and Juno Concerto), with a third one in the works.Abigail was similarly jolted into life as a banjoist, but for her it was hearing Doc Watson.