Two of music's top banjoists - Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn - will merge their talents at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College for a special evening of music on Tuesday, Jan. 20.
A husband and wife who have built solid solo careers, Fleck and Washburn have mastered the deceptively intricate art of the duet. Their performances embrace a diversity almost unimaginable - virtuosity coming from just two banjos and one voice. Washburn's beguiling composing, playing and singing blend with Fleck's riveting and virtuosic musicianship to create music that is unique yet familiar in texture. Together they employ the relatively rare 3-finger and clawhammer banjo duet, said to result in an explosion of musical white heat.
Fleck, a 15-time Grammy winner, was born and raised in New York City and began his musical career playing the guitar. In the early 1960s, however, while watching "The Beverly Hillbillies" as a young boy, he discovered the bluegrass sounds of Flatt & Scruggs. Earl Scrugg's banjo style immediately hooked Fleck's interest.
Later enrolled at NYC's High School of Music and Art, Fleck necessarily sought instruction outside the classroom, as the banjo was not offered at the school. The experience exposed Fleck to the wide variety of musical genres in New York, to which he adapted the banjo - a unique talent that he has mastered throughout his career.
In 1991, Fleck was invited to join the progressive bluegrass band New Grass Revival, now recognized as a leader in taking bluegrass music to new limits. His extensive career has also included collaborations with diverse musicians including Edgar Meyer, Chick Corea, Dave Matthews, Earl Scruggs and more, as well as his wildly popular work with his own, cutting-edge band, Béla Fleck and the Flecktones.
Illinois-born and Nashville-based, Washburn merges venerable folk elements with influences of Asia for a unique musical sound. After studying Chinese in college and intending to become a lawyer in China, Washburn accepted a record deal offer in the halls of a bluegrass convention, changing her life course to music. Fluent in Mandarin and considering China her adopted second homeland, Washburn continues to extensively tour in the country, including a month-long tour of China's Silk Road supported by grants from the U.S. Embassy, Beijing.
Learn more about Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn's music and their life as musicians during an interview on the "PBS News Hour" at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Y0bXvq6VRM.
The proceeds from merchandise sales at the Fleck/Washburn show at Community Concert Hall will be donated to the La Plata Family Centers Coalition.
Tickets for Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn are $38 and $48 and are available online at www.durangoconcerts.com.