By Alison Baumgartner
Opening our 2017/18 season on September 7th is the amazing banjo duo Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn. Heralded by Paste Magazine as “the king and queen of the banjo,” they took home the 2016 Grammy Award of Best Folk Album. Individually, they are both world-class artists in their own right — Fleck is a 16-time Grammy winner and Washburn is a critically acclaimed musical innovator. However, when they come together, the music they create becomes nothing short of phenomenal — with haunting beauty and deep meaning reflected in what they play.
The couple met in 2007 at a square dance, where Béla was taken by the way Abigail danced and lit up the room. Though they married in 2010, it was some time before they began playing together. Once they did, they found that Béla’s traditional banjo picking really complemented Abigail’s clawhammer style.
“We discovered,” said Béla to The Mercury News, “we could put together a really banjo-centric program. There was nothing like that out there, just a couple of banjos — a lot of different kinds of banjos, but just a couple of musicians playing together — showing how much sound is there, how much color and tonal possibilities there are, how diverse it can be.”
When people think of two banjos, they usually think of “Dueling Banjos”, but their collaboration resulted in something soulful, layered, and ultimately touching.
They aren’t just partners in music but also in life. After the birth of their son Juno, they collaborated on their first album, which they will be performing at the Lincoln Center. The album features American roots music, including the blues, Appalachian ballads, and a “gorgeous rendition” (Mikael Wood, LA Times) of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”, which was inspired by an impromptu lullaby session with Juno.
Last time the pair was here, they donated some of their proceeds from their merchandise to a local charity that is near and dear to our hearts — The Lincoln Center Support League. The Lincoln Center Support League’s mission is to excite, enlighten, and educate through the arts, and has sponsored master classes and free concerts for children in Larimer County to enjoy.
As such, we are very pleased to bring back Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn September 7th, 2017. Tickets go on sale, August 9th, 2017.