Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Angular Banjos Sound Good to Me

I wrote about Rockygrass last week but barely mentioned the music. So here's my favorite from the weekend: The Sparrow Quartet. It was one of the few acts that I ventured out of the water to go and see close up. Two banjo virtuosos (Bela Fleck and Abagail Washburn), a fiddle (Casey Driessen) and cello (Ben Solee). The two banjo attack gives them the pop and the drive, the cello and fiddle ground it and lend it a kind of formality. Their lead singer, Abigail Washburn is very into Chinese culture, which gives them another wrinkle (and make me think of the "angular banjos" line in that Steely Dan song). If this doesn't sound like old school, Beverly-Hillbilly's-theme-song bluegrass, that's because it's not. These guys have a sound all their own. Anyway, a clip is below, of them jamming in Beijing with Chinese musicians (intercut with mini-interviews). It's a little long at 10 minutes, but listen to the first couple minutes, at least; the cross-cultural collision is pretty cool.

I just found this on Youtube. A great compilation of the sights and sounds of Rockygrass 07 (yes, we were at that one too). Gives a great taste of why the festival is as fun as it is. Looks like a bunch of freakin hippies to me. These kids today.


meno said...

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones! Hell yes!

Irrelephant said...

Bela Fleck, as in the guy I always hear about on NPR's Performance Today. And the Steely Dan title. I love you, man.

Eric Shonkwiler said...

That's pretty wild, hearing the Chinese fellows play like that. Are the Sparrow Quartet drunk or jet-lagged? Good stuff, either way. I'm in awe of the picking abilities.

Mona Buonanotte said...

You rock, for the Steely Dan nod.

You rock harder for seeing Bela. BELA!

We're going to a folk festival this weekend, I'm so excited I could pee my pants.

Victoria Gothic said...

You listen to Steely Dan too? Yaay! I've got Aja on vinyl! I'm going to listen to it right now! And I do like Bella Fleck, but I'm kindof in love with Alison Krauss, so, yeah, that's about it.

Clowncar said...

Wow, everybody's heard of Bela Fleck. Hadn't expected that. I guess you bloggers are quite a worldly, well-rounded bunch.

And Eric, I think if you take a second look, you'll realize that in the clip Abigail Washburn is simply very, very stoned.

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