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Abigail Washburn Clogs, Bela Fleck Riffs on the Banjo in ‘Take Me to Harlan’ Video

Folk duo enlists dance troupe Pilobolus to summon old-world Appalachian rhythm

Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn met at a square dance in Nashville. She was dancing. He was playing. Fifteen years later, they’ve built entwining careers — as well as a family — upon that initial encounter, touring the world together as a Grammy-winning, husband-and-wife folk duo.

The new video for “Take Me to Harlan” finds Fleck and Washburn revisiting the dynamic of their first evening spent in one another’s company. In the clip above, Fleck’s banjo provides the soundtrack for his wife’s clogging. She stomps, jumps and drags her feet against the ground, underscoring her vocal melody with an old-world Appalachian rhythm. Joining her are members of the dance troupe Pilobolus, whose headlamps cast stark, startling spotlights upon Washburn’s face during the video’s intro — a cover of the Depression-era union song “Come All You Coal Miners” — and whose legs work up a sweat during the song’s dance-heavy final stretch. Meanwhile, Fleck kicks up plenty of dust on his own, throwing claw-hammered riffs and jazz-influenced passing tones into his banjo playing. The result is a modern-day spin on age-old traditions, merging original roots music with classic choreography.

Recorded at Pilobolus’ studio in rural Connecticut, the “Take Me to Harlan” clip also cycles its way through a reel of casual highlights from the musicians’ ongoing tour in support of their second album, Echo in the Valley. They make gas station runs. They unload the van. They tend to their toddler-aged son, who’s been touring with the couple ever since he was born. Equal parts home movie and performance art, “Take Me to Harlan” connects the dot between the family’s time on- and off-stage.

Here are Fleck and Washburn’s upcoming tour dates:

December 6  — Los Angeles, CA  @ Royce Hall at UCLA
December 7 — Irvine, CA @ Irvine Barclay Theatre
December 9  — Solana Beach, CA @ Belly Up
December 11 — Santa Cruz, CA  @ Rio Theater
December 12  — Sacramento, CA  @ Crest Theatre
December 14-16 — Berkeley, CA  @ Freight & Salvage
January 11 — Abingdon, VA  @ January Jams @ Barter Theatre
January 13  — Charleston, SC @ Charleston Music Hall
January 14 — Tallahassee, FL @ Ruby Diamond Concert Hall @ Florida State University
January 16 — Chapel Hill, NC  @ University of North Carolina @ Chapel Hill
January 18 — Hickory, NC  @ Music in the Mill Concert Series
February 2  — North Little Rock, AR @ University of Arkansas
February 5  — Manhattan, KS @ McCain Auditorium at Kansas State University
February 7  — Ann Arbor, MI @ Hill Auditorium
February 8 — Lafayette, IN @ Purdue University @ Loeb Playhouse
February 9 — Grand Rapids, MI  @ St. Cecilia Music Center
April 5  — Toms River, NJ @ Grunin Center
April  6 — Barre, VT  @ Opera House
April 9  — Brownfield, ME  @ Stone Mountain Arts Center
April 11 — Portsmouth, NH  @ Music Hall
April 13 — Fairfield, CT @ Quick Center for the Arts

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