Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn
About The Show
It took a decade as a couple for “banjo royalty” Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn to officially team up musically on a 2016 Grammy Award–winning album and tour. It was worth the wait.
The pair blend their divergent techniques—Washburn uses the traditional claw hammer picking method, Fleck the three-finger Scruggs style—into an unforgettable evening, trading ad-libbed lines like jazz veterans, sparring with enviable crispness.
Just in case you aren’t familiar with Béla Fleck, there are some who say he’s the premier banjo player in the world. Others claim that Béla has virtually reinvented the image and the sound of the banjo through a remarkable performing and recording career that has taken him all over the musical map and on a range of solo projects and collaborations. If you are familiar with Béla, you know that he just loves to play the banjo and put it into unique settings.
The 16-time Grammy Award winner has been nominated in more categories than any other artist in Grammy history and remains a powerfully creative force globally in bluegrass, jazz, classical pop, rock, and world beat. In 2009, he produced the award-winning documentary and recordings, Throw Down Your Heart, where he journeyed across Africa to research the origins of the banjo. In 2011, Fleck premiered The Impostor with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, an unprecedented banjo concerto, followed by the companion documentary, How to Write a Banjo Concerto. In 2016, Béla will unveil his second concerto Juno in Canton, Ohio.
These days, Fleck bounces between various intriguing touring situations: he performs his concerto worldwide with symphonies, collaborates in a duo with Chick Corea and in a trio with Zakir Hussain and Edgar Meyer. He performs in concert with the Brooklyn Rider string quartet, in banjo duet with Abigail Washburn, and back to bluegrass with his old friends Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Stuart Duncan, Bryan Sutton, and others. He collaborates with African artists such as Oumou Sangare and Toumani Diabate, in a jazz setting with The Marcus Roberts Trio, and with Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, who continue to perform together 25 years after the band’s inception. belafleck.com
Abigail Washburn is a Grammy award-winning singer, songwriter and clawhammer banjo player whose music often meshes traditional Appalachian and Chinese folk tunes. Abigail’s music projects range from her string band, Uncle Earl, to her bilingual releases Song of the Traveling Daughter(2005) and City of Refuge (2011), to the mind-bending “chamber roots” sound of the Sparrow Quartet (featuring Béla Fleck, Casey Driessen, and Ben Sollee), to Afterquake, her fundraiser CD for Sichuan earthquake victims. Her most recent record with her husband, Béla Fleck, won a 2016 Grammy for Best Folk Album. Washburn is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and has regularly toured in China, including a month long tour of China's Silk Road supported by grants from the US Embassy, Beijing. Abigail is a TED Fellow and gave a talk at the 2012 TED Convention in Long Beach titled “Building US-China Relations…by Banjo.” In March of 2013, she was commissioned by New York Voices and the NY Public Theater to write and debut a theatrical work, Post-American Girl, which draws from her 17-year relationship with China and addresses themes of expanding identity, cultural relativism, pilgrimage, and the universal appeal of music. abigailwashburn.com