The Hollywood ArtsPark Experience Concert Series presents bluegrass banjo legends Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn on Thursday, April 28 at 7:00 pm with a free, all-ages performance.
Born in New York City and named for the classical giants Bartok, Webern, and Janacek, Béla Anton Leos Fleck first tuned into his musical soul through TV, radio and a lucky encounter on a train ride (just after having received his first banjo from his grandfather) with a banjo player who saw the instrument young Béla was toting, tuned it up, and pointed him to Pete Seeger's book How To Play The Five-String Banjo. A move to Kentucky some years later immersed him in the sound's heartland and led to a spot in the acclaimed progressive bluegrass band New Grass Revival. The Flecktones, the project that immediately followed New Grass Revival, recently celebrated 30 years of melding acoustic with electronic and bluegrass with jazz and funk.
If American old-time music is about taking earlier, simpler ways of life and music-making as one’s model, Abigail Washburn has proven herself to be a bracing revelation to that tradition. She — a singing, songwriting, Illinois-born, Nashville-based clawhammer banjo player — is every bit as interested in the present and the future as she is in the past, and every bit as attuned to the global as she is to the local. Abigail pairs venerable folk elements with far-flung sounds, and the results feel both strangely familiar and unlike anything anybody’s ever heard before.