Americana, a form of music based, in part, on the traditions embodied in American folk music can’t neglect the huge influence of bluegrass in the 20th century. Bela Fleck is the preeminent living exponent of the banjo, his dazzling level of technical mastery is unquestionable and his influence is huge. Having recorded a series of keystone bluegrass albums for Rounder Records he branched out, taking the banjo into music it is rarely associated with – such as modern funk-jazz with the electric band The Flecktones.
Some of his experiments are quite challenging to the traditionalist ear but, like Earl Scruggs in the 1970s, it’s undeniable that Bela Fleck has been driven to show that there is no music that is closed off from his favoured instrument. Which has meant classical music, collaborations and tours with Chick Corea, and further delving into the sphere of world music. He even appeared on The National’s Grateful Dead tribute ‘Day of the Dead’. Since his marriage to Abigail Washburn there has been a welcome series of albums that are far more in the traditional sphere.
Number of Tracks in the Library: Apparently a fairly miserly 75, which means there’s still much more to explore.
Key Songs: it depends on taste, but if you like Bluegrass then you could do worse than listen to the ‘Ride‘ album. The new albums with Abigail Washburn are sure to be to many’s taste as well. Below the man himself identifies a wider selection.