Many of the world’s most influential bluegrass banjo players – all with ties to New York - will reunite to perform a “Banjo Summit” in a limited concert tour of the East Coast in October 2013. The tour, coordinated by “The Egg” Performing Arts Center in Albany, NY, follows the success of its Fall 2012 and Winter 2013 runs to play 11 shows from October 2 through 13.
Generally considered the most accomplished master of the instrument, Béla Fleck will be joined by fellow pickers Tony Trischka, Bill Keith, Richie Stearns, Eric Weissberg, and Noam Pikelny in a concert that will find the banjo being performed in both conventional and unexpected ways. In performances ranging from solos and duets to full-tilt banjo blowouts with all the players and an acoustic band, the concert stage will range from the traditional backdrop of bluegrass and old-time country music to the more unconventional banjo genres including jazz, classical and rock music. The tour will also feature special guest clawhammer banjoist 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 a wide diversity of artists such as 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. Béla 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 young Béla 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 brought forward 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 with 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 and which he distributes through his business Beacon Banjos.
Eric Weissberg – raised in Manhattan and currently 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 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 – who will be the special guest on the NY Banjo tour – has brought her clawhammer banjo and vocals skills to the groups Uncle Earl and The Sparrow Quartet as well as duo shows with Bela Fleck.
The banjoists will be accompanied on stage by a stellar acoustic band that features 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).
Further information on the tour and participating artists may be found at the NY Banjo website: http://www.nybanjo.org/.
NY BANJO TOUR DATES:
Oct. 2: Carnegie Library Music Hall, Munhall, PA: http://www.carnegieconcerts.com/eventperformances.asp?evt=145
Oct. 3: Asbury Hall, Buffalo, NY: http://www.babevillebuffalo.com/events
Oct. 4: Smith Opera House, Geneva, NY: http://www.thesmith.org/events/live-ny-banjo-summit
Oct. 5: Flynn Theatre, Burlington, VT: http://www.flynntix.org/Productions/Details.aspx?perfNo=9591&perfCodePre...
Oct. 6: Mahaiwe Theatre, Great Barrington, MA: http://www.mahaiwe.org/music.html
Oct. 8: Stone Mountain, Brownfield, ME: http://www.stonemountainartscenter.com/ArtsCenter/Bela-Fleck-Banjo-Summi...
Oct. 9: Paramount Theatre, Rutland, VT: http://www.paramountvt.org/shows_details/bela-flecks-banjo-summit/301/
Oct. 10: Sanders Theatre, Cambridge, MA: http://www.celebrityseries.org/CS_performers_2013_14/fleck.htm
Oct. 11: Tilles Center, Garden City, NY: http://www.tillescenter.org/201314_season_subscriptions/showcase.cfm
Oct. 12: Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts, Storrs, CT: http://jorgensen.uconn.edu/events/view.php?id=354
Oct. 13: The State Theatre, New Brunswick, NJ: http://www.statetheatrenj.org/bela_fleck