In the News:
Sheridan Opera House: Abigail Washburn in concert
Media & Venue Contact: Sept. 12, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Abigail Washburn in concert
Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012
Sheridan Opera House, Telluride, Colo.
The Sheridan Arts Foundation presents clawhammer banjo player Abigail Washburn live at the Sheridan Opera House on Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012 at 8 p.m. She will play an intimate, seated show with multi-instrumentalist Kai Welch.
Washburn is married to banjo star Bela Fleck and is making a name for herself musically as she pairs venerable folk elements with far-flung sounds resulting in music that is both strangely familiar and unlike anything anybody’s ever heard before.
She’s a singing, songwriting, Illinois-born, Nashville-base clawhammer banjo player who is every bit as interested in the present and the future of music as she is in the past.
Washburn was originally set to study law in Beijing, China, she even had a plane ticket, but plans were derailed when she was offered a record deal even though she wasn’t looking for one. A few years later she emerged with her debut album, “Song of the Traveling Daughter.”
Alongside old-timey originals that felt impossibly lush and light on their feet were songs she wrote in Chinese — she’s fluent — and even an instrumental that wove together an old-time banjo tune with a traditional Chinese folk song: “Backstep Cindy/Purple Bamboo.”
In 2008, Washburn and three virtuosic comrades — cellist Ben Sollee, fiddler Casey Driessen and three-finger-style banjo player Bela Fleck — presented “Abigail Washburn and the Sparrow Quartet,” a set of seemingly boundless compositions sprouted from the seeds of American and Chinese folk. The album extended an imaginative musical bridge between East and West. The world had never seen a chamber ensemble, stringband or bluegrass group quite like the Sparrows.
Washburn’s most recent album “City of Refuge” was released in 2011 and reflects her ever-evolving musicianship: it’s a sublime marriage of old-time and indie pop.
“This new project incorporates what would’ve in the beginning of my career seemed like an unexpected move,” she said of the album. “But now it feels like a really natural progression of working with people that reach into other genres and other spaces musically.”
Her cast of collaborators on the album is impressive: Rayna Gellert, Washburn’s former bandmate in Uncle Earl, My Morning Jacket’s Carl Broemel, the Decembrists’ Chris Funk, atmospheric jazz guitarist Bill Frisell, veteran Nashville studio percussionist Kenny Malone, Old Crow Medicine Show’s Ketch Secor and singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Kai Welch, who she stumbled upon playing keyboards with Nashville’s Tommy and the Whales.
In Welch, Washburn found a co-writer and singing partner whose sensibilities, though they complement hers, aren’t the slightest bit old-timey — which is precisely why she wanted to work with him; smart AM pop is his native territory.
“There were some song ideas that I took to him that I thought I would have a handle on myself,” she said. “But I just thought I’d try it out with him and see if he thought of anything right away, and in so many instances, he really would have an initial instinct that was extremely beautiful and applicable to the songs. He would think of chord structures that were different than things I would usually think of.”
Welch and Washburn are touring as a duo in October. Tickets for their Sheridan Opera House performance are available online at sheridanoperahouse.com. They are $20 and reserved seats.
The Sheridan Arts Foundation was founded in 1991 as a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization to preserve the historic Sheridan Opera House as an arts and cultural resource for the Telluride community, to bring quality arts and cultural events to Telluride and to provide local and national youth with access and exposure to the arts through education. The Sheridan Arts Foundation is sponsored in part by grants from the Telluride Foundation and CCAASE.