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At The Gillioz Theater It’s All About The Banjo With Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn
Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn

Banjo virtuoso Bela Fleck holds the record for Grammy nominations in more categories than any other musician, and has earned 14 of the awards for his musical forays, including Bluegrass, Classical, Jazz, World Music and Composition.  

Bela Fleck’s latest Grammy is shared with his wife for the release, Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn, which won Best Folk Recording in 2016.

Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn will perform at Springfield’s Historic Gillioz Theater, Monday February 4th at 8pm, and just ahead of their appearance, Abigail Washburn called KSMU’s Mike Smith to preview their appearance:

“It’s our 2nd show there” says Abigail Washburn, “and we are really excited to be able to come back and share all this new music we’ve created since our last visit; and a new child.  Juno became a 5 year old, and we were able to make a new little person named Theodore, who’s 7 months old and he’s just as sweet as can be. He’s in my arms right now and has been smiling up at us, and hopefully the listeners out there can feel that sweet little baby smile.”

“Juno and Theodore will be with us too,” said Washburn, “And all the music Bela and I created for our last record, Echo in the Valley, which came out a year ago.  One of the songs on that is about being a family and how quickly time seems to pass.  It’s called, If I Could Talk to a Younger Man.  We will definitely be sharing that song, and that features a big Cello-Banjo.”

Abigail Washburn says Monday at The Gillioz, Bela Fleck will also play a banjo once owned by Earl Scruggs. “Bela actually bought that banjo after Earl passed away, and it will be an exciting night full of banjos. Big banjos, little banjos, high banjos, low banjos.  Our family loves banjos, that all I can say.”

When asked about the variety of musical genres she and Bela Fleck are collecting, preserving, promoting and performing, Abigail Washburn first shared news about her husband’s latest project. “The reason Bela’s not on this interview with me,” she says. “is because he’s in the basement currently, right at this moment, recording his first Bluegrass album in 25 years.  It’s a collection of his favorite tunes he’s been wanting to record for a long time.”

“But yes,” says Abigail Washburn, “Bela and were brought together because, we met at square dance. We both love the old music, and love to be a part of the community that plays and celebrates it. Bluegrass is not an old music, but has its roots deep in American history, but we also now know Bluegrass has a Scots-Irish history and an African history.”  

“We love music from around the world,” said Washburn, “ Bela’s documentary, Throw Down Your Heart, was all about his experiences travelling through Africa, and finding the people who played banjo before it came to America for the first time.”

“And I’ve spent a lot of time in China,” says Washburn.  “The last 20 years, I’ve been studying Chinese and have made 16 tours there.  So we will also share some Chinese Bluegrass with you Monday night.  It’s a beautiful big world full of amazing music, and we are both dedicated to discovering it, being a part of it, bringing the banjo to it, and bringing it to the banjo.”

Abigail Washburn tells KSMU she and Bela Fleck very much look forward to sharing their music with those kind enough to come to the Gillioz, Monday evening. “I feel so grateful we get to travel as a family and make this music we love.” She says. “There’s a wonderful group of people out there that like what we do and support it, and that’s the reason we get to do it.”

Washburn continues: “I just want to say a big thank you to those coming to the show, and everyone who wishes they could but can’t be there.  Thanks for supporting and wanting us to come to town.  It’s a big deal to us. Bela and I are looking forward to sharing a lot of that music we’ve collected from around the world, at The Gillioz.”

For information,

Mike Smith's career at KSMU began in 1980 as a student announcer when the former Navy Submariner attended (then) SMSU with help from the GI Bill. In 1982 Smith became a full time member of the KSMU family as "Chief Announcer", responsible for the acquisition, training and scheduling of the student announcing staff. It was also in 1982 when Smith first produced "Seldom Heard Music" a broadcast of Bluegrass which is still heard on KSMU and every Saturday night at 7CT.
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