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Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn

6 April 2019
7:30 pm - 10:00 pm
Barre Opera House

Banjo greats Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn travel to The Barre Opera House on Saturday, April 6 for a 7:30 show. Part of the TD Bank Celebration Series, this concert is sponsored by North Country Federal Credit Union with media support provided by Vermont Public Radio and The Point.

Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn, “the king and queen of the banjo” (Paste Magazine), have a musical partnership like no other. Béla Fleck is a 15-time Grammy Award-winner who has taken the instrument across multiple genres, and Abigail Washburn a singer-songwriter and clawhammer banjo player who reradicalized 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.

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 Mr. 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, Washburn 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.

The duo 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 instrument from its most familiar arena into new and unique realms, Mr. Fleck and Ms. Washburn meet in the mean, head-on, to present music that feels wildly innovative and familiar at the same time. As Washburn explains, the intense, intimate collaboration that they put forward on this project required “a spirit of staying strong, but also a willingness to release into the other’s ideas to create something new,” possibly something bigger and more beautiful than one could do on one’s own. 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.

Tickets for Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn are $26-$49.50, with discounts for members, seniors, students and the disabled – order online at www.barreoperahouse.org or call the Barre Opera House at 802-476-8188. The Opera House is handicapped accessible and equipped for the hearing impaired.