An incendiary presence on stage, Béla Fleck and the Flecktones return to the Smith Opera House for the fourth time on Thursday, Oct. 7.
A New York City native, Béla Fleck picked up the banjo at age 15 after being awed by the bluegrass playing of Flatt & Scruggs. He began experimenting with playing bebop on the banjo in high school. In 1982, he joined the progressive bluegrass band New Grass Revival, where he made a name for himself in the country-bluegrass world, at the same time beginning a series of solo albums including the groundbreaking 1988 album “Drive,” 1994’s “Tales from the Acoustic Planet” and 1999’s “The Bluegrass Sessions – Tales from the Acoustic Planet Volume 2.”
Since the group’s formation in 1989, the Flecktones’ relentless touring has garnered major attention, highlighting the interplay of true virtuoso musicians: Fleck, bassist Victor Wooten, percussionist Roy “Future Man” Wooten and – joining the group in 1997 – saxophonist Jeff Coffin. Famed for routinely playing over 200 concert dates annually, the Flecktones reached more than 500,000 audience members last year.
The Flecktones made their self-titled debut recording in 1990, at the time dubbed a “blu-bop” mix of jazz and bluegrass, and soon became a commercially successful, critically acclaimed and award-winning band, their six album releases in the 90s documenting their musical evolution. After creating The Flecktones live-in-the-studio, the group went on to experiment with overdubs and guest artists on later albums, with contributions from artists such as Amy Grant, John Medeski, and Dave Matthews. The Flecktones went on tour with the Dave Matthews Band in 1996 and 1997, and Fleck is featured on several tracks on DMB’s 1998 album “Before These Crowded Streets.”
Fleck has virtually reinvented the image and the sound of the banjo in a remarkable performing and recording career that has taken him all over the musical map, both with the Flecktones and on a range of solo projects and collaborations. The recipients of multiple Grammy Awards, Béla Fleck and the Flecktones picked up the Best Contemporary Jazz Performance, Instrumental Grammy in 2000 for “Outbound,” a typically wide-ranging project – with guest artists that include guitarist Adrian Belew and singers Jon Anderson and Shawn Colvin.
Reserved seated tickets to “An Evening with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones” are available at The Smith box office and by calling 315-781-LIVE (5483) or toll-free 866-355-LIVE (5483). They are $28 and $26. The Smith accepts MasterCard, Visa and Discover.
Doors open at 7 p.m. for the 8 p.m. show. The Smith Opera House is located at 82 Seneca Street in Geneva.