Banjo love: Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn play Grand Junction’s Avalon Theatre | VailDaily.com

Banjo love: Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn play Grand Junction’s Avalon Theatre

Caitlin Row
crow@gjfreepress.com
Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn will play Grand Junction's Avalon Theatre on Saturday, Jan. 17.
Courtesy Photo |

GO&DO

WHAT: Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn

WHERE: Historic Avalon Theatre, downtown Grand Junction

WHEN: Saturday, Jan. 17; doors open at 7 p.m. and show starts at 8 p.m.

COST: $20, $30, $35

INFO: www.abigailwashburn.com/#/belaandabigail

Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn will perform at downtown Grand Junction’s Historic Avalon Theatre on Saturday, Jan. 17. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m.

Seating is reserved: tickets for the upper mezzanine cost $20; tickets for the lower mezzanine, and rows 19-21 in the orchestra section cost $30; and tickets for the rest of the floor, including rows A & B cost $35.

“I have played in Grand Junction several times, going all the way back to New Grass Revival days in the 1980s,” Fleck said in a recent email interview. “That’s when my many Colorado experiences began. And I’ve been going to Telluride every summer to perform for over 30 years now.

“I loved my last visit, and look forward to getting back.”

According to Sanstone Concerts, Fleck is a 15-time Grammy winner who often plans with a band, The Flecktones, a “jazz-fusion ensemble” with plenty of bluegrass roots. More recently he’s participated in “a staggeringly broad array of musical experiments, from writing a concerto for the Nashville Symphony to exploring the banjo’s African roots to jazz duos with Chick Corea,” and he’s produced a variety of solo albums.

Now Fleck is touring with his wife, Abigail Washburn, a well-known folk/indie singer/musician in her own right. Together the banjo-loving duo will perform a variety of original works.

“It’s actually quite unusual to have a group with two banjos in it, playing in different styles,” Fleck explained. “Abby plays in the old time claw-hammer style, and I’m a three finger man. The songs are built from our combining the different ways we can ripple and cascade together. And we use a bunch of different types of banjos to provide variety.”

The musical couple enjoys working together as well, and they’ve collaborated in the past.

“We were advised by friends not to play together, but we knew it would be cool,” Fleck said. “There are certainly plenty of couples we know who we wouldn’t advise to go into business together, but some do very well together.”

Tickets are currently on sale at City Markets, Triple Play Records and Back Porch Music. Call 970-243-TIXS or by tickets online at TicketsWest.

For more information about Fleck and Washburn, visit http://www.abigailwashburn.com/#/belaandabigail.

BEAVER CREEK, CO: The Vilar Performing Arts Center (VPAC) welcomes husband and wife banjo duo Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn on Monday, January 19 at 7:30 PM. Washburn & Fleck embrace the notion that they’ve become a family band, whether they are at home, on stage or recording, it’s their deep bond, on top of the way their distinct musical personalities and banjo styles interact, that makes theirs a picking partnership unlike any other on the planet. Abigail Washburn and Béla Fleck combine the earthy sophistication of an old-time singer-songwriter with the virtuosic, jazz-to classical ingenuity to create a one-of-a-kind pairing, with one-of-a-kind possibilities. Tickets to Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn are $65 and are on sale now at the VPAC Box Office (970.845.8497/www.vilarpac.org). Purchase the Winter Underground Sound Pass (5 shows, 5 drinks, $160) and see the banjo duo in addition to 4 other fantastic shows (must purchase pass by January 12). The VPAC is located under the ice rink in Beaver Creek Village (68 Avondale Lane, Beaver Creek, Colorado).

Fleck and Washburn have collaborated in the past, most visibly in their Sparrow Quartet with Casey

Driessen and Ben Sollee. Until last fall, though, any performances they gave as a two-piece were decidedly informal, a pickin’ party here, a benefit show at Washburn’s grandmother’s Unitarian church there. It was inevitable and eagerly anticipated by fans of tradition-tweaking acoustic fare that these partners in music and life (who married in 2009) would eventually do a full-fledged project together.

Now that Fleck, a fifteen-time Grammy® award winner, has devoted time away from his standard-setting ensemble Béla Fleck and the Flecktones to a staggeringly broad array of musical experiments, from writing a concerto for the Nashville Symphony to exploring the banjo’s African roots to jazz duos with Chick Corea, while Washburn has drawn critical acclaim for her solo albums, done fascinating work in folk musical

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diplomacy in China, presented an original theatrical production, contributed to singular side groups Uncle Earl and The Wu-Force and become quite a live draw in her own right, the two of them decided they were ready to craft their debut album as a duo, Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn (released last October on Rounder Records). There was one other small, yet not at all insignificant factor in the timing: the birth of their son Juno.

Their new album uses only the sounds they could coax out of their bodies and their banjos. Washburn and Fleck didn’t confine themselves to playing their usual workhorses, her Ome Jubilee and his pre-war Gibson Mastertone Style 75. Between them, they used seven different banjos in all, including a cello banjo, a ukulele banjo (that technically belongs to Juno) and a baritone banjo that Fleck commissioned specifically for this album. “We had this vision of playing different banjos in different registers,” said Fleck, “finding a way to make every song have its own unique stamp, yet the whole project having a big, cohesive sound – with only two people.”

From track to track, Washburn and Fleck are a nimble band unto themselves composing such tracks as “Railroad,” “Oh! Susanna,” “Little Birdie,” “Bye Bye Baby Blues,” and “What’cha Gonna Do,” the duo shows off every aspect of their songwriting and instrumental talent.

Tickets to Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn are $65 and are on sale now at the VPAC Box Office (970.845.8497/www.vilarpac.org). Purchase the Winter Underground Sound Pass (5 shows, 5 drinks, $160) and see the banjo duo in addition to 4 other fantastic shows (must purchase pass by January 12). The VPAC is located under the ice rink in Beaver Creek Village (68 Avondale Lane, Beaver Creek, Colorado).

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