Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn On Mountain Stage The unofficial "first family of the banjo" combines powerful vocals and revolutionary techniques. Hear six songs from Fleck and Washburn, recorded live on the campus of West Virginia Wesleyan College.

Mountain Stage

Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn On Mountain Stage

Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn On Mountain Stage

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/186440197/186439820" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn appear here on Mountain Stage, recorded live on the campus of West Virginia Wesleyan College. Although Washburn and Fleck have been on the show several times with numerous projects over the years, this was their first appearance anywhere as a duo. The arrangement was a bit of a happy necessity: Partners in life as well as music, Fleck and Washburn were expecting their first child at the time this segment was recorded for broadcast. Washburn joked about the sensation of playing an open-back banjo while seven months pregnant: "It's like a helmet for your belly."

The unofficial first family of the banjo, the two are widely credited with revitalizing and revolutionizing the instrument — Fleck with the three-finger Scruggs style, and Washburn with the traditional clawhammer. A powerful vocalist, Washburn sings one of the duo's songs in Mandarin; she's become fluent in the language thanks to her longtime involvement in Chinese cultural and social issues.

Set List

  • "City Of Refuge"
  • "Am I Born To Die?"
  • "The Love Song Of Kanding"
  • "Movement Two Banjo Concerto Excerpt"
  • "Sally In The Garden / Palmyra Red / Molly Put The Kettle On"
  • "His Eye Is On The Sparrow"
[+] read more[-] less

More From Folk

Joseph performs at the 2017 Newport Folk Festival. Adam Kissick for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Adam Kissick for NPR

Newport Folk Festival

Joseph, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2017

The Portland trio, composed of sisters Natalie, Meegan and Allison Closner, makes music that invites its audience to share in its bond of sisterhood. Hear Joseph's set at Newport Folk now.

Joseph, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2017

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/539346196/542434613" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

John Paul White performs at the 2017 Newport Folk Festival. Adam Kissick for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Adam Kissick for NPR

Newport Folk Festival

John Paul White, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2017

"If you came to this set looking to be cheered up, you're screwed," White deadpanned from the stage. His music can give goosebumps, even on a sunny summer day; hear his set at Newport now.

John Paul White, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2017

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/539348461/542435387" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Pinegrove performs at the 2017 Newport Folk Festival. Adam Kissick for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Adam Kissick for NPR

Newport Folk Festival

Pinegrove, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2017

Hear the band play its tender songs about home, friendship and growing up, live at Newport Folk.

Pinegrove, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2017

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/539347880/542125521" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

The Wild Reeds perform at the 2017 Newport Folk Festival. Adam Kissick for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Adam Kissick for NPR

Newport Folk Festival

The Wild Reeds, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2017

Mackenzie Howe, Sharon Silva and Kinsey Lee's set at Newport Folk was assured and robust, a testament to potent voices made more powerful when united.

The Wild Reeds, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2017

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/539341325/540437771" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Alynda Segarra of Hurray for the Riff Raff performs live at the 2017 Newport Folk Festival. Adam Kissick for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Adam Kissick for NPR

Newport Folk Festival

Hurray For The Riff Raff, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2017

Stream Alynda Segarra's impassioned set from Newport.

Hurray For The Riff Raff, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2017

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/540576452/540576834" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Shovels & Rope performs at the 2017 Newport Folk Festival. Adam Kissick for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Adam Kissick for NPR

Newport Folk Festival

Shovels & Rope, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2017

The charismatic husband-and-wife duo returned to Newport after a three-year hiatus.

Shovels & Rope, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2017

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/539331412/540570871" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

The New York-based sibling duo The Lords of Liechtenstein. Brian Blauser/Mountain Stage hide caption

toggle caption Brian Blauser/Mountain Stage

Mountain Stage

The Lords Of Liechtenstein On Mountain Stage

The Rauchwerk brothers bring their quirky, folky singing and songwriting to Mountain Stage in West Virginia.

Lords of Liechtenstein on Mountain Stage

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/534992085/535370783" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn perform bluegrass and Mandarin folk music for Mountain Stage. Brian Blauser/Mountain Stage hide caption

toggle caption Brian Blauser/Mountain Stage

Mountain Stage

Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn On Mountain Stage

The First Family of the Banjo performs bluegrass and Mandarin folk music live in Charleston, W.Va.

Mountain Stage

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/532957683/532964363" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Back To Top