There are special gigs, there are rare gigs, there are gigs that are musical premieres. Few upcoming gigs offer that combination in quite the same way as the 23rd January and 25th January 2020 appearances of Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn at London’s Barbican and Essex’s Saffron Hall respectively. What makes these such special events? Well, it’s those five special letters that spell out musical bliss – banjo. To say that Béla Fleck is a talented banjo player is akin to saying Jimi Hendrix was a bit of a guitar player. Only that’s still something of an understatement as Béla Fleck has taken the banjo into all sorts of music – bluegrass, of course, but wider folk, jazz, rock, jam bands, classical, jazz-funk, and beyond. His wife, Abigail Washburn is also no slouch on God’s preferred instrument and brings her exquisite vocals to the musical pairing.
The duo have recorded three albums so far, ‘Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn‘, ‘Banjo Banjo‘, and ‘Echo in the Valley‘, music from the last of which will get its first airing in the UK on this upcoming visit. Their music tends to be closer to those folk and bluegrass strands that are commonly associated with the banjo, but there’s a sophistication of playing that is rare to hear.
Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn will also make an appearance at Celtic Connections, playing City Halls on the 18th January on a shared bill with Julie Fowlis, Éamon Doorley, Zoë Conway & John McIntyre.
A couple of videos of music from ‘Echo in the Valley‘ as a taster of what to expect – this and lots more.
Photo: Jim McGuire