Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Bela Fleck: Throw Down Your Heart

Throw Down Your Heart, Tales from the Acoustic Planet, Vol. 3: Africa SessionsLast night, Kevin and I saw a show of global, full-circle, mind-blowing proportions and I wish I could place you directly in the auditorium to give you better grasp of the experience, but technology hasn't brought us quite that far yet. A YouTube clip will have to do.

First, a quick sum up of a couple hundred years of music...
The banjo was developed in the 18th century by American slaves who adapted it from traditional African instruments made of gourds. The modern banjo became popular in American music halls in the 1800's. In the mid to late 1800's, the music of African American slaves began to meld with popular European music to create a distinct "American" sound, which blossomed into genres like blues, bluegrass, rock and roll, jazz, pop, and on and on from there.

So Bela Fleck, modern banjo player extraordinaire, went to Africa to research and record with musicians who play the traditional instruments that inspired the American banjo. Last night, his tour came to Bowdoin College where we heard music that fused traditional African music with bluegrass and had twinges of Robert Johnson, Chuck Berry, and even Jimi Hendrix that floated in and out all night long.

Here's one of the songs we heard. I'd highly recommend checking out the album or the documentary, too.

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