Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn Play The McCoy January 20

Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn Play The McCoy January 20

Hailed as "the king and queen of the banjo" by Paste Magazine, Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn have a musical partnership like no other. 15-time Grammy Award winner Béla Fleck has taken the instrument across multiple genres, and singer/songwriter Abigail Washburn has re-radicalized the clawhammer banjo by combining it with Far East culture and sounds. The two met at a square dance, began collaborating musically, and eventually fell in love. Fleck and Washburn will perform pieces from their Grammy-winning, self-titled debut, as well as their newest album, Echo in the Valley (2017).

The McCoy Marquee Series presents Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn at the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts (100 W. Dublin-Granville Rd., New Albany) on Sunday, January 20, at 7 pm. Tickets are $31.50-$51.50 and can be purchased in-person at the CAPA Ticket Center (39 E. State St.), online at, or by phone at (614) 469-0939 or (800) 745-3000.

Over the years, Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn played together most visibly in the Sparrow Quartet alongside Ben Sollee and Casey Driessen, and informally at a pickin' party here, a benefit there, or occasionally popping up in each other's solo shows. Fans of tradition-tweaking acoustic fare eagerly anticipated that Béla and Abigail would begin making music together as a duo.

Fleck has the virtuosic, jazz-to-classical ingenuity of an iconic instrumentalist and composer with bluegrass roots. His collaborations range from his ground-breaking, standard-setting ensemble Béla Fleck and the Flecktones to a staggeringly broad array of musical experiments. From writing concertos for full symphony orchestra, exploring the banjo's African roots, to jazz duos with Chick Corea, many tout Béla Fleck as the world's premier banjo player.

Washburn has the earthy sophistication of a postmodern, old-time singer/songwriter who has drawn critical acclaim for her solo albums. She has done fascinating work in folk musical diplomacy in China, presented an original theatrical production, and has contributed to singular side groups Uncle Earl and The Wu-Force. In addition, Washburn has recently created a non-profit with Chinese zither-master, Wu Fei, called the Ripple Effect, whose mission is to unite and open hearts through the unique sounds and harmony of American and Chinese folk music.

With one eye on using the banjo to showcase America's rich heritage and the other pulling the noble instrument from its most familiar arena into new and unique realms, Béla and Abigail present music that feels wildly innovative and familiar at the same time. Whether at home, on stage, or on record, their deep bond, combined with the way their distinct musical personalities and banjo styles interact, makes theirs a picking partnership unlike any other on the planet.

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