Bela Throws Down

Bela Fleck is a tremendous banjo player. He is the leader of a group of musical phenoms known as The Flecktones, and during their time off the road in 2005, Fleck expanded his worldwide search for musical partners in crime.

This time, his destination was Africa, and with the help of dedicated cohorts, Bela Fleck was able to travel to multiple countries and record songs with outstanding local musicians. Throw Down Your Heart is a documentary that serves as an entertaining visual record of the process. The film, directed by Fleck's younger brother Sascha Paladino, was well received at festivals and opens soon in San Francisco (March 13) and New York (April 24) . Throw Down Your Heart is also an album, released today on Rounder Records.

The African musicians are the rightful stars of both the film and album, and that's how Bela Fleck wants it. Modest, but never one to disappoint, Fleck is taking some of his new friends on the road...he's doing it soon, and possibly to a town near you:

Here are tourdates for 'The Africa Project' from Bela Fleck.com

  • 3/26/09 The Colonial Theater Pittsfield, MA
  • 3/27/09 Playhouse Ridgefield, CT
  • 3/28/09 R.P.I. Troy, NY
  • 3/29/09 Music Hall Tarrytown, NY
  • 3/30/09 Berks Jazz Festival Reading, PA
  • 4/1/09 Shelton Concert Hall St. Louis, MO
  • 4/2/09 Uptown Theater Kansas City, MO
  • 4/3/09 Tennessee Theater Knoxville, TN
  • 4/4/09 Music Festival Savannah, GA
  • 4/5/09 University of Florida Gainesville, FL
  • 4/7/09 Duke University Durham, NC
  • 4/8/09 Ryman Auditorium Nashville, TN
  • 4/9/09 State Theater Falls Church, VA
  • 4/10/09 University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA
  • 4/11/09 Zeiterion Theater New Bedford, MA

The musicians joining Bela Fleck on tour are:

  • Toumani Diabate - the kora master from Mali
  • Vusi Mahlesela - guitarist, vocalist from South Africa
  • D'Gary - guitarist, vocalist from Madagascar
  • Anania Ngoglia - thumb pianist, vocalist from Tanzania

By the way, The Flecktones just won their eleventh Grammy award and they have tour dates scheduled this fall & winter.  That's in addition to shows Fleck has booked for this fall with bassist Edgar Meyer and tabla player Zakir Hussein.

Its worth noting; not only did Bela Fleck show up for his interview without an entourage, he walked here, from a hotel a couple miles across town. Bela Fleck is such a unique musician and indeed a unique person. He's humble, curious, and absolutely dogged in his pursuit of musical bliss. Each project he does reinforces this conclusion: when Bela Fleck decides to play, listen.

- Dan Bloom

Find more information on all Bela Fleck's projects at Bela Fleck.com