Béla Fleck, the banjo visionary in groups like New Grass Revival and his own Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, will release his first bluegrass album in more than two decades. My Bluegrass Heart finds Fleck collaborating with a host of fellow pickers, including Molly Tuttle, Sierra Hull, and David Grisman. The musician previews the upcoming LP with “Charm School,” a thrilling eight-minute jam with Billy Strings and Chris Thile.
“’Charm School’ started out with a banjo tune in C, using loads of harmonics. ‘C harm.’ Get it?,” Fleck says in a statement. “In some ways, it’s the wildest and jammiest track on the album, and yet highly melodic and organized. I feel this was the perfect vehicle for this band and the perfect band for this song. And when you think about us musical dogs that sometimes need to go crazy, yet live in a world where we’re expected to follow the rules, maybe it’s the perfect title, too.”
Fleck’s last bluegrass release came in 1999 with The Bluegrass Sessions: Tales from the Acoustic Planet, Vol. 2.
“This is not a straight bluegrass album, but it’s written for a bluegrass band,” Fleck said of My Bluegrass Heart. “I like taking that instrumentation, and seeing what I can do with it – how I can stretch it, what I can take from what I’ve learned from other kinds of music, and what can apply for this combination of musicians, the very particularly ‘bluegrass’ idea of how music works, and what can be accomplished that might be unexpected, but still has deep connections to the origins.”
Both Strings and Thile, along with string-music luminaries like Sam Bush, Stuart Duncan, and Jerry Douglas, will join Fleck for a bluegrass summit of a concert on January 7th, 2022, in Nashville. The Ryman Auditorium show will cap Fleck’s lengthy tour, a trek that includes guests like Bush, Edgar Meyer, and Michael Cleveland.
My Bluegrass Heart will be released September 10th.
Here are Fleck’s My Bluegrass Heart Tour dates:
September 17 — Roanoke, VA @ Jefferson Center
September 18 — Berryville , VA @ Watermelon Pickers’ Fest 2021
September 19 — Glenside, PA @ The Keswick Theatre
September 21 — Pittsburgh, PA @ Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall
September 22 — Bethesda, MD @ The Music Center at Strathmore
September 23 — Cumberland, MD @ DelFest
September 24 — Princeton, NJ @ McCarter Theatre Center
September 25 — Boston, MA @ Berklee Performance Center
September 26 — North Adams, MA @ FreshGrass
September 28 — Kent, OH @ The Kent Stage
September 29 — Cincinnati, OH @ Taft Theatre
September 30 — Charlottesville, VA @ The Paramount Theater
October 1 — Raleigh, NC @ IBMA Bluegrass Live!
November 27 — Grand Rapids, MI @ DeVos Performance Hall
November 28 — Fort Wayne, IN @ Clyde Theatre
November 29 — Milwaukee, WI @ Riverside Theater
December 1 — St. Louis, MO @ The Sheldon Concert Hall
December 2 — Des Moines, IA @ Hoyt Sherman Place
December 3 — Salina, KS @ The Stiefel Theatre
December 4 — Denver, CO @ Paramount Theatre
December 5 — Jackson, WY @ Center For The Arts
December 7 — Portland, OR @ Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
December 8 — Seattle, WA @ Paramount Theatre
December 9 — Eugene, OR @ Jaqua Concert Hall
December 10 — Redding, CA @ The Cascade Theatre*
December 11 — Reno, NV @ Silver Legacy Resort Casino
December 12 — Berkeley, CA @ The UC Theatre
December 14 — Costa Mesa, CA @ Segerstrom Center for the Arts
December 17 — Los Angeles, CA @Theater at the ACE Hotel
December 19 — Tucson, AZ @ Fox Tucson Theatre
January 7 — Ryman Auditorium @ Nashville, TN (with Sam Bush, Michael Cleveland, Jerry Douglas, Stuart Duncan, Sierra Hull, Edgar Meyer, Justin Moses, Mark Schatz, Billy Strings, Bryan Sutton, Chris Thile, Molly Tuttle)