Bela Fleck brings banjo summit to Tarrytown Music Hall
Although it’s frequently the victim of stereotypes that portray it as unmelodic, harsh and grating, the banjo will be on display in its musical splendor this Thursday at Tarrytown Music Hall during Béla Fleck’s Banjo Summit tour. Acclaimed banjo player Béla Fleck, best known as the head of the jazz fusion group Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, will join forces with other banjo legends, including Tony Trischka, Bill Keith, Richie Stearns, Eric Weissberg and Noam Pikelny to perform at the event.
“It's so rare to be surrounded by banjo players and we get to celebrate our instrument, which honestly takes quite a lot of abuse in the world,” Fleck, 54, said in a recent interview. “We can stand proud together.”
Featuring an assortment of solo and ensemble banjo playing backed by a band made up of Russ Barenberg on guitar, Alex Hargreaves on fiddle, Jesse Cobb on mandolin and Corey Dimario on bass, the tour is the brainchild of Peter Lesser, the executive director of the Egg Performing Arts Center in Albany.
“Peter put together a New York Banjo show 10 years ago that was amazing, and lasted about four hours,” Fleck said. “This year he asked us if we'd like to put together a tour with a smaller group of players, and we all loved the idea.”
Fleck, who grew up in New York City, became interested in the banjo after hearing it played in movies and on TV, including in “The Beverly Hillbillies” theme and on a track from “Deliverance.” After learning the instrument as a teenager, some of his first gigs involved him taking the train north to perform at venues in Westchester County and Connecticut.
Through the years, he has continued to develop his style by looking to other instruments for inspiration, paying attention to types of music that don’t typically feature the banjo.
He urged both banjo enthusiasts and critics to give Thursday night’s show a chance.
“I'm betting you'll be surprised by the diversity and emotional connection that the banjo can have,” he said. “This is the show to come to if you aren't sure if you like the banjo.”
IF YOU GO
Who: Béla Fleck’s Banjo Summit
When: 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17.
Info: Tarrytown Music Hall, 13 Main St., Tarrytown; 914-631-3390; www.tarrytownmusichall.org; $35-$60