Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn
A banjo duo might seem like a musical concept beset by limitations. But when the banjo players are Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn, it’s a different matter. He brings the virtuosic, jazz-to-classical ingenuity of an iconic instrumentalist and composer with bluegrass roots. She possesses the earthy sophistication of a postmodern, old-time singer-songwriter. On stage and in their relationship—they’ve been married since 2009—they’re a one-of-a-kind pairing. Fleck, winner of fifteen Grammy Awards, has devoted considerable time away from his standard-setting of Béla Fleck and the Flecktones to pursue an array of musical experiments, including writing a concerto for the Nashville Symphony and investigating the banjo’s African roots. An alumna of Uncle Earl, the powerhouse all-female string band, Washburn has adopted China as her second home. Her music—instrumental and vocal—resounds with echoes of Appalachia and Chinese cultural influences. On their debut album as a duo, the couple uses a combined seven banjos, including a cello banjo, a ukulele banjo that belongs to their son Juno, and a baritone banjo that Fleck commissioned for the project. “This is not Dueling Banjos: The Married Couple Edition. You won’t find the careening energy of the mano-a-mano from the Deliverance soundtrack, or of the Flatt and Scruggs classic ‘Foggy Mountain Breakdown.’ Outbreaks of dazzling speed-demon technique are few,” an NPR reviewer points out. “Instead, the first duo recording from Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn … is notable for its understated, welcoming calm. Across eleven short, carefully arranged slivers of Americana, Fleck and Washburn explore roots music using the tones and coloration options that arise when two banjos join in conversation.”
Create your own Choice series, and save 10 percent, by purchasing tickets to four or more eligible events in one transaction. JERSEY BOYS does not qualify for a Choice series.
Richard and Sally Kalin