Posts tagged ‘Béla Fleck’

October 12, 2013

NY Banjo Tour!

Last night a got to go to the NY Banjo Tour- finally! I was very happy that I made it to a performance, since I didn’t think that I was going to be able to.  I got there a few minutes late & the show was already in full swing.  Fingers were flying and the crowd was enraptured.  Bela Fleck was just getting off stage when we arrive (but he returned soon after to play some more tunes).  The first half of the show was mainly a banjo player with the (really, really amazing backing band) playing a few songs of their choice.  Some were old folk favorites and others were new compositions.  All of the musicians range in age from young to old and it is cool to see them all work together.  After about an hour, it was time for intermission.  I got to go backstage.  I met almost all of the players, as well as the baby on tour and some of the other guys that work with the tour.  It was cool to see the whole backstage area of the venue (the Tilles Center) as well as meet the people I had just seen playing!  I also got a chance to see the Banjo Bus (their tour bus) it was really interesting to see how big & how small it was at the same time.  People had to sleep in chairs and on couches because there were only six bunks (and there are so many musicians/ family members etc.

The second half of the show featured slightly longer sets with more original music.  Bela Fleck played part of his composition for banjo and orchestra (without the orchestra).  He also played a few songs with his wife Abigail Washburn (who has a hauntingly beautiful voice).  After a few more tunes (and one all together) the night was over.  After a standing ovation however, they came back for an encore.  The first song of the encore involved Bela playing his banjo, and then Tony Trischka came and played on the neck while Bela picked, then more and more players came out until about 4 of them were all playing on the same banjo (and of course it sounded flawless & fabulous).

Here’s a video from another performance of what they did (although my friend took a video- this one is better quality so you can actually see what’s going on. They finished the show with a tribute to Earl Scruggs- all playing and singing together.  There couldn’t have been a better ending.

After the show they came out to sign autographs and it was fun to see people full of excitement snapping pictures with their favorite players. Although this show almost made me want to give up on the banjo, I hope that I won’t.  To see the level that these players have achieved is indescribably amazing, and I am so happy that I got to see them.  They truly show off the banjo’s versatility & how far you can go with the instrument.  Getting a backstage view was also great- seeing a little slice of life on the road, for me at least, was pretty inspiring in and of itself.

I’ve got a lot of work to do.

The tour has two more show YOU SHOULD CHECK IT OUT if at all possible!

Here’s the site (and also you can find out more about NY Banjo history & about all of the players that I’m mentioning here, because I would have to write a novel to give them all justice…)

 

 

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September 26, 2013

Throw Down Your Heart

Since I just started my banjo journey, I haven’t seen very many movies about banjos.  I have though, seen one that was pretty fantastic.  It’s called “Throw Down Your Heart.”  It follows Bela Fleck (an amazing banjo player!!) Check him out here.

Bela journeys to Africa (where the banjo is originally from) to play with a lot of really amazing African musicians, and hear some of their stories.  It’s a really cool movie, and it’s filled with great music & some pretty touching stories. Watch a  preview here.

Throw Down Your Heart

Another interesting thing about Bela Fleck is that he collaborates with musicians from around the world, one of my personal fave collaborators are the Tuvan Throat Singers.  These guys are AMAZZZZZINGG. They can sing more than one note simultaneously… like WHAT??!!! Listening to them is kind of mind blowing, you’re not quite sure how they’re doing it.  Read all about what they do…

Throat Singers

Basically, the moral of this post is that the banjo is a gateway to so many different cultures & a lot more music than you might have bargained for.. it’s not just some 99 year old on a porch in a rocking chair picking a tune, or a new modern day folk band. As with any instrument you can kind of take it in the direction that you want- but the banjos seems to have a unique versatility. I’m looking forward to reaching the point at which I can explore even more genres, although as you know- I love my original folk tunes…