Last weekend in Raleigh, Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn brought their intimate banjo-centric duo to several thousand people at World of Bluegrass, because they’re among the biggest stars in the genre. This week though, Béla and Abby, as they are affectionately known to the bluegrass community, will scale down and give back in a series of benefits shows in Nashville, starting on Tuesday evening.
“October 3rd at the Basement we are going to be working with the Tennessee Environmental Council, which is a group that Bela in particular has worked a lot with.”
That’s Washburn describing the first of the three shows in three nights. On Wednesday the duo plays the Family Wash on behalf of the Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition. Thursday’s show at 3rd & Lindsley benefits the Linden Waldorf School, where Fleck and Washburn’s four-year-old son is enrolled.
She says for the last year or two, they’ve included a local non-profit as a partner on every show. The group keeps the merch table money and uses the show as a platform.
“They’ll come to the show, set up a table. We try to give some talking time to the issues they care about and then they’re there to talk to people during a break or after a show.”
Bela Fleck says it’s an extension of how his early band New Grass Revival approached hometown shows in Nashville: “That whole thing about farm to table and local is really interesting to us and it just occurred to me that well we’re a local product of Nashville and it would be neat to do something local that treats Nashville as the community that it is of all of these small interconnected areas. So for a whole bunch of reasons it seemed like a fun thing to try for this new album.”
That album, titled Echo In The Valley, is coming out October 20 from Rounder Records. It will be their second as a duo. And they say that more by virtue of their outlook than any attempt to coordinate with their philanthropy, the album includes self-penned songs that address the environment, cultural harmony and raising children.
Tickets at http://www.belafleck.com/tour/