Blu-Bop brings Flecktones to Canyons

Article Published: Jan. 23, 2014 | Modified: Jan. 25, 2014

Since their inception in 1989, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones have been as well known for their near-constantly changing themes, instrumentation and members as they’ve been for performing Grammy-winning, genre-bending, banjo-featured blends of jazz fusion, classical opuses, bluegrass runs and world beat rhythms.

In celebration of the band’s 25th anniversary, Blu-Bop: A Tribute to the Music of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, will bring all the precision and excitement of a live Flecktones performance, presented in a unique, chronologically accurate fashion, to Blowing Rock’s Canyons on Friday night, Jan. 24.

Blu-Bop formed with the idea of presenting the music of the Flecktones in a unique way, trying to incorporate seminal tunes the jazz fusion powerhouse has created over the years. Banjo player and bandleader Hank Smith formed the group from seasoned professionals, with the idea of celebrating the music that influences the members of the band regularly. The tribute is meant to capture that sound, but also to add its own flair to the tunes and the arrangements.

The first act of its kind, Blu-Bop’s performances represent a career retrospective of the Flecktones’ body of work through the years. The first set includes material from the group’s first three albums, featuring Howard Levy’s piano and harmonica work, and the second set includes material from the Flecktones’ years as a trio, with longtime sit-in mandolinist Sam Bush, and as a four-piece unit, with permanent saxophonist Jeff Coffin.

During a recent IBMA conference in Raleigh, the project even received approval from Bela Fleck himself. Smith met and spoke with Fleck during an intimate concert he was performing with his wife, Abigail Washburn.

“Bela was very supportive when I told him what we were planning and essentially gave it his blessing,” Smith said. “He said those were some of the best years of his life and he was happy that someone else wanted to take up the music and have as much fun with it as he did.”

Blu-Bop: A Tribute to the Music of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones will perform at 9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24, at Canyons in Blowing Rock. A $10 admission charge will be collected at the door, and it will be an all-ages show.

Canyons is located at 8960 Valley Blvd. in Blowing Rock. For more information, call (828) 295-7661.

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