Abigail Washburn was supposed to be a lawyer by now. But a banjo and study in China got in her way. The banjo led her to music of Appalachia, which (coupled with her love of the language and people of China) eventually spurred her to take a group of American musicians to Asia for informal musical cultural exchanges. Her latest solo CD away from her "day job" as part of the bluegrass quartet Uncle Earl, Songs of the Traveling Daughter, draws heavily on both American mountain music and China (in fact, Washburn sings in Chinese on the recording). Washburn assembled the Sparrow Quartet as a way to share traditional acoustic music across cultures, coming together with common sounds and learning tunes from new friends.
Although the Sparrow Quartet is Washburn's baby, the other musicians involved in the project are no less accomplished. And, in the case of banjo master Bela Fleck, I'm sure she'll agree, even more. Fleck has played alongside all of the big names in the roots music business – jazz and classical-crossover as well, he's won 7 Grammys with, among others, Joshua Bell, Edgar Meyer, Alison Brown and his own band, the Flecktones. Fiddler Casey Driessen and cello player Ben Sollee haven't started racking up the Grammys yet, but just give them time (Driessen's nominated this year for his CD 3D, so this may, in fact, be his year).
(This concert was recorded, mixed and mastered by contributing producer, Jimmie Wilson.)