Bela Fleck & More Set for NY Banjo Summit at Jorgensen, 10/12
Seven of the world's greatest five-string banjo players will stop Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013, at Jorgensen Center on the UConn campus to hold a "New York Banjo Summit" that ranges from solos and duets to full-tilt banjo blowouts. These experts have united for a limited East Coast tour to perform with an acoustic band in conventional and unexpected ways and covering the traditional bluegrass and old-time country to the more progressive jazz, classical and rock genres. The show starts at 8 p.m.
Banjo master Béla Fleck will be joined on stage by fellow pickers - all with ties to New York State - Tony Trischka, Bill Keith, Richie Stearns, Eric Weissberg and Noam Pikelny, plus special guest Abigail Washburn.
Béla Fleck - born and raised in Manhattan - began making waves with a series of progressive banjo-centric recordings in the 1970s and as a member of the Newgrass Revival in the 1980s. As leader of the genre-busting Béla Fleck and the Flecktones since 1989, he has used the banjo to define the band's one-of-a-kind fusion of jazz, rock, bluegrass and world music. His collaborations with jazz piano icon Chick Corea, Indian tabla master Zakir Hussain, classical bass virtuoso Edgar Meyer, and African artists Toumani Diabate and Oumou Sangare have brought the banjo even further into unchartered territories. Fleck has been nominated for Grammy Awards in more categories than any artist in history, and has won 15 to date, with 30 nominations.
Tony Trischka - originally from Syracuse - took the bluegrass banjo to a whole new level in the 1970s with a series of recordings that explored rock and avant-garde jazz. He served as the teenage Fleck's banjo teacher, and continues to explore the traditions and possibilities of the banjo through his "World Turning" concerts, his band Territory and as a record producer for artists such as Steve Martin.
Bill Keith - of Woodstock, NY - is widely considered a trail blazer of the melodic style of banjo picking he demonstrated as a member of Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys. He went on to join the Jim Kweskin Jug Band and then helped pioneer the early newgrass movement through his work in bands with artists such as David Grisman, Peter Rowan and Richard Greene. He invented the "Keith tuners" that are used by banjo players around the world.
Eric Weissberg - raised in Manhattan and now residing in Woodstock - helped to bring the sound of the bluegrass banjo to mainstream America with his performance of "Dueling Banjos" on the soundtrack of the major motion picture "Deliverance." This signature tune has gone on to become the world's most familiar bluegrass instrumental.
Richie Stearns - of Ithaca, NY - brought the old-time clawhammer banjo style to a whole new audience with the jam bands Donna The Buffalo and The Horseflies, and has accompanied artists such as Natalie Merchant, Jim Lauderdale and the late Vassar Clements.
Noam Pikelny - a Brooklyn resident - played in Leftover Salmon and the John Cowan Band before joining the Punch Brothers in 2006. The recipient of the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass in 2010, he has also recorded two albums as leader of the Noam Pikelny Band.
Abigail Washburn, a singer, songwriter and Nashville-based clawhammer banjo player fresh from touring with husband and musical partner Fleck, joins the NY Banjo Summit as a special guest. Washburn combines her love of American and Chinese folk (she's fluent in Chinese) in her work with Fleck, cellist Ben Sollee and fiddler Casey Driessen in the Sparrow Quartet, which netted her 2008 album. She played in the Clearwater Concert celebration of Pete Seeger's 90th birthday and has opened for Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers. Her latest album, City of Refuge (2011), mixes her old-time roots with indie pop.
Accompanying the banjo greats will be guitarist Russ Barenberg (of the Barenberg, Douglas & Meyer band); fiddler Casey Driessen (Sparrow Quartet, Jerry Douglas); mandolinist Jesse Cobb (of the Infamous Stringdusters), and bassist Corey DiMario (of Crooked Still).
This performance is sponsored by New England Public Radio (WFCR).
Jorgensen was named Best College/University Performing Arts Center in the Hartford Advocate Best of Hartford Readers' Poll for 2012 and 2013.
Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts is located at 2132 Hillside Road on the UConn campus in Storrs. Ticket prices are $40, $36 and $33, with some discounts. For tickets and information, call the Box Office at 860.486.4226, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., or order online at jorgensen.uconn.edu. Convenient, free parking is available across the street in the North Garage.
Photo Courtesy of NY Banjo Summit and Bela Fleck