WOUB Music Blog

Banjo Virtuosos Coming To Stuart's Opera House

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Updated Mon, Mar 3, 2014 1:55 pm
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Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn

Stuart’s Opera House in Nelsonville will present an evening of banjo music from Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn on Wednesday, March 5 at 8 p.m.

The two musicians have mastered the deceptively intricate art of the duet, with performances embracing a surprising diversity coming from just two banjos and one voice.

Fleck, a 15-time Grammy winner who has collaborated with Chick Corea, Dave Matthews, Earl Scruggs and the Cleveland Orchestra, may be the most prominent banjo player in the world.

Since releasing his first album in 1979, he has grafted the banjo to styles and genres not usually associated with the instrument's bluegrass/Americana origins. Through his work with New Grass Revival and The Flecktones, Fleck has shattered most people's preconceptions of the banjo.

His most recent album is The Impostor (2013), a concerto for banjo and orchestra, which was recorded with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.

Washburn’s banjo has also taken her far beyond the usual old-timey comfort zone, musically and geographically.

On the eve of leaving for law school in Beijing, China, Washburn, newly enamored with the American sound of Doc Watson and the clawhammer banjo, found herself at the International Bluegrass Music Association festival in Louisville, Ky. Knowing only a few songs, she was spotted during a jam session and courted by a record label to come to Nashville. She delayed her trip East and turned South.

Washburn joined the powerhouse all-female string band, Uncle Earl, and set out00this time with banjo in hand--for her adopted second homeland of China. Her musical offerings have resulted in a distinctly new sound, reflecting the echoes of Appalachia and the tidal wave of emerging Chinese cultural influence.

Her most recent disc, City of Refuge, adds dashes of electric and percussive flavors, rendering moods that evoke Brian Eno’s soundscapes as well as the earthy, expressive acoustic muscle that is at the core of Washburn’s sound. 

Tickets for Wednesday's show are still available. Floor seats are $40 in advance or $45 at the door, balcony seats are $35 in advance or $40 at the door, and box seats are $50 in advance or $55 at the door. Visit www.stuartsoperahouse.org for information.

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