Tag Archives: Bela Fleck

DelFest Preview 2016, preparing to celebrate 10 years

By: Tim Newby


In celebration of its 10th year, DelFest has assembled an All-Star roster for its annual Memorial Day Weekend extravaganza in Cumberland, Maryland.  This year’s lineup is topped by the Trey Anastasio Band, Govt Mule, the Travelin’s McCoury’s featuring Dierks Bentley, Leftover Salmon, Railroad Earth, and Bela Fleck & Chris Thile, is easily one of the best festival schedules around.  Throw in namesake Del McCoury’s four sets over the weekend (which includes the traditional festival opening “soundcheck” set, and a guest laden spot which will feature Dan Auerbach from the Black Keys, Jon Fishman from Phish, the Preservation Hall Horns from New Orleans, and Ronnie Bowman) and the guarantee that Del will sit in with what seems like every band throughout the weekend and you would be hard pressed to find a better four days of music over Memorial Day Weekend this year. Continue reading DelFest Preview 2016, preparing to celebrate 10 years

Jonathan Scales Fourchestra: Innovative, other-worldly jazz

Pilgrim Profiles: Your guide to the freshest faces in grass-roots music

By: Tim Newby


Band: Jonathan Scales Fourchestra (Official Webpage)

Hometown: Asheville, NC

Members:  Jonathan Scales (Steel pan drums), Chaisaray Schenck (Drums), Cody Wright (Bass)

Sounds Like: A highly-inventive Miles Davis acid-trip led by steel-drums.

For Fans Of:  Bela Fleck, Toubab Krewe, Medeski Martin & Wood

Bio:  Jonathan Scales first the started the band in 2007 upon graduation from college.  The band went through various line-up changes until it solidified with the addition of bassist Cody Wright in 2011.  Drummer Chaisaray Schenck, a college friend of Scales, joined in 2014 to round out the current line-up.  Prior to the addition of Wright, Scales released three solo albums.  Since the addition of Wright, The Fourchestra has released two albums 2013’s Fourchestra and 2014’s Mixtape Symphony a “dense half-hour long-form album inspired by and dedicated to Roy “Futureman” Wooten.”  The album peaked at #6 on the iTunes Jazz Charts.

Albums: Fourchestra (2013), Mixtape Symphony (2014)

Key Tracks:  


What They Do Live:

(An exclusive premiere of “Life After D” from The Fourchestra’s new DVD, Alive at Rex Theater)

A magical journey through New Orleans with the Flecktones

Bela Fleck & the Flecktones

House of Blues

New Orleans, Louisiana

June 1, 2007 


Magic is outside the ordinary; it’s beyond our jobs, our single-serving packet of ketchup, and our $3.14 gallon of gas.  We go to shows to step outside of the ordinary, to experience magic, even if it only occurs once or twice in a performance.

But what happens when magic is a band’s foundation?  What happens when a group of musicians is so well versed in magic, that it becomes their everyday language, their primary means of communication?

While no one can really answer these questions, Bela Fleck and The Flecktones comes as close as any to personifying the phenomenon.  The band’s latest performance in New Orleans showcased each musician’s mastery of his instrument, and because of this mastery, the transcendent and magical have become The Flecktones’ stomping grounds.

Bela stepped into the spotlight for the first extended solo of the evening during “Kaleidoscope.”  A carefree feeling began bouncing through the House of Blues as Bela glowed, making the impossible look easy. Two songs into the evening and already the threads of composition and improvisation were woven into musical tapestry.

In fact, the band would continue to juxtapose themes throughout the night.  Structure and abstraction, mind and body, and every imaginable style of music collided, exposing just how limited words are when trying to categorize The Flecktones.  We heard a new Latin composition from Victor Wooten, and then were transported to Tolkien’s Middle Earth courtesy of Jeff Coffin’s piccolo in “The Whistle Tune.”

“Labyrinth” eventually gave way to Victor’s “customary” bass solo.  But instead of silencing the crowd with intimacy, he did the exact opposite.  Victor exploded with an utterly assaulting solo commanding thunderous power that few can harness.

After the band played The Beatles’ “Come Together” to close the first set, Future Man emerged for his moment in the spotlight to start the second.  Playing with his case sensitive drumitar (the buttons on his invention react to the weight applied to them), Future grooved in an almost poetic manner, giving a performance as physically passionate as any kit player.  The lines between reality and illusion had given way.

As the band re-emerged one by one, the crowd readied itself for another round of enchantment.  The sultry “Sex in a Pan” was as pornographic as music can get, and the obligatory “Flight of the Cosmic Hippo” was like watching a time lapse video of a blossoming flower, as it continuously opened up to bigger, brighter, fuller sounds.

Toward the end of the second set, Coffin pulled out a second saxophone for the climatic solo of “Earth Jam,” a common practice for him, yet no less amazing.  However, this moment was quickly overshadowed when the stage was emptied, save a stool, a banjo, and a man.

Bela’s banjo solo was one of those musical moments that are irrefutable.  At one moment he floored us all by playing the banjo with his teeth.  Words just fall short of explaining Bela’s capabilities; All that can be said is their essence drips with inspiration.

Having already been taken to the Promised Land, anywhere else was just an added bonus.  But being the generous souls they are, The Flecktones took the audience to the far off reaches of India during the encore, channeling Om in the Eastern-inspired “Shanti.” 

And so, after visiting a wide range of places this evening, mostly emotional, there were no bittersweet feelings about the night ending, only satisfaction.

 By the end of the show, it had become clear that when The Flecktones take the stage, they don’t inhabit the realm of the everyday but are inviting everyone to join them in a magical space through the shared language of music.  Next time Bela Fleck and The Flecktones are in town, leave your life at the door and prepare for the magical.

Set 1: Frontiers, Kaleidoscope, Vic’s New Waltz, The Whistle Tune, Labyrinth >  bass solo > Subterfuge*

Set 2: Futch > Amber Jack, Sex in a Pan, Flight of the Cosmic Hippo, Misunderstood, Earth Jam,  Béla

Encore: The Longing, Shanti


photos by Thomas Walsh 

Austin City Limits Festival lineup announced

The line-up has been announced for Austin City Limits Festival, to take place September 14-16 in, you guessed it, Austin, Texas.

Bob Dylan & His Band, Bjork, and the White Stripes headline the three-day festival at  Zilker Park. 

The line-up is indie rock heavy, with acts such as the Arctic Monkeys, the Arcade Fire, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!, Wilco, the Killers, My Morning Jacket, and the Decemberists on the bill.  There are also jamband festival favorites such as Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, Rose Hill Drive, Railroad Earth, STS9, Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, Mofro.  You can also catch several Marley offspring over the weekend.

Visit www.aclfestival.com for the complete lineup and more details. 

PHOTO GALLERY: Langerado 2007

Lowcountry Blues Bash

Charleston, South Carolina

February 9-18, 2007


Fiery Ron's Home Team BBQ in Charleston, South Carolina has emerged as one of the south's premiere blues clubs.  Opening in late 2006, owner/operators Aaron Seigel and Randy Abraham have put their heads together to create the best BBQ, the best bourbons, and the best music, offering all in a quaint, rustic atmosphere that aludes to some of the most prominent jukejoints and honky tonks around the region.

Using Gary Erwin's (Shrimp City Slim) Lowcountry Blues Bash as a springboard for success, FRHTBBQ introduced an incredible line-up for this year's festival.  Featured on this year's bill was Michele and the Midnight Blues, Big Bill Morganfield, local bluesman and Home Team House Man Davis Coen, Lil' Dave Thompson, and many other local and regional performers.

Michele and the Midnight Blues kicked the event off at Fiery Ron's, performing an eclectic mix of originals standards as well as twisting some favorite rock and roll songs into a blues flavor.  Michele Seidman can be heard on many radio stations throughout the USA and abroad, in part to their first commercial CD release Eyes Set to Midnight and their appearance at the 2006 International Blues Challenge.



Next up on the Home Team stage was Big Bill Morganfield, the son of the late blues legend Muddy Waters.  The largest turnout for the venue to date, Big Bill packed a sellout crowd into the BBQ joint, treating the energetic crowd to two full sets of standards and originals including "Mannish Boy," "Blues in the Blood" and "Champagne and Reefer."  Accompanied on stage by lead guitarist Brian Bisesi, who in 1978 was invited by Big Bill's father to replace an ill Luther 'Guitar Jr.' Johnson.  Also accompanying Big Bill was Larry Griffith on drums, Cindy Adler on stand-up bass, and Lil Joe Burton on trombone, all responsible for the crowds' high level of participation.

Midway through the week The Home Team House Man, Davis Coen added a relaxed set to the line-up as the only acoustic act of the week. Supporting his newest release Can't Get There From Here, Davis' performances of his originals such as "Fool's Gold," "Soft of Heaven" and "What's Wrong" as well as traditionals like "Prodigal Son" and his twist on Bob Dylan's "You Ain't Going Nowhere" provided the warmup he needed.  Davis is heading out on his annual trek to the jukejoints of Mississippi, so be on the lookout.

The final highlight of a successful blues festival took the stage on February 17 in the form of Lil Dave Thompson.  Hailing from Hinds County Mississippi, Dave Lonzo Thompson treated the audience to the most intricate guitar playing by a featured musican.  His guitar solos combined the buzz-saw solos of Albert King and the sweet, metallic sting of Little Milton.  Supporting his latest release Got to Get Over You, Lil Dave brought all of his energy and stamina to the Home Team this cold February evening.

The success for this year's blues bash is still being evaluated; however, such great local acts as The Michael Garrett Band, The James Garner Band, and Cotton Blue Band as well as out-of-town up-and-comers such as The Rev. J. Peyton's Big Damn Band and Jon Short cannot be overlooked.  

Success is seen in the way those boys at the Home Team love their blues.  

Success is seen in the way Gary Erwin promotes his festival.  

Next year's performances promise to be off the hook.

On the record with Umphrey’s McGee

Umphrey’s McGee has had a busy year.  They released a new album, Safety In Numbers.  They toured relentlessly as usual.  Now, as the year’s coming to a close, they’re gearing up for a three-night run in Chicago at the Aragon.  Honest Tune contributing writer Brian Heisler had a chance to talk with guitarist Brendan Bayliss about closing out 2006 and plans going forward in 2007.



Honest Tune: Let’s talk about your plans for the rest of the year (2006).  You have the annual acoustic holiday show coming up with Jake at The Vic, in Chicago, how did that come about?

Brendan Bayliss: This is maybe the third, maybe the fourth one.  A couple years ago we talked about how it would be fun.  Where Jake and I come from, in the Midwest, some of the most fun we ever had was just sittin’ around, kind of campfire style, acoustic guitars and just songs and stuff.  Just something about it that we always liked and it seemed like the right time of the year to do it.  So we did one and it worked and it was so much fun that we just decided to make it kind of an annual thing.


HT: And the money goes to charity?

BB: Yeah, we put some of the money to, I think it was Keys for Kids the first two years and now this one’s for Ustorm, which is a benefit I started with some other friends.


HT: Moving on to New Year’s; last year was your first year at The Aragon with Keller Williams and now you have three nights with North Mississippi Allstars, Los Lobos, and Taj Mahal, how did you decide to put together this year’s show?

BB: It was so great with Keller, we love him and we wanted to do it again with him, but we also thought that we kinda want to do a different show every year.  There’s people that come every year to New Years, [we wanted] to make it different for them.  We wanted to have Keller back, but we just kinda want to make it different.  And then we were hanging out with the guys from North Mississippi at the Fuji Rock Fest, just talking about what gigs they have coming up.  I just kinda asked, I think it was Coby, and was just like, ‘if you guys aren’t booked if you wanna do it, come out.’  And they were like, ‘sure.’  Los Lobos, I’m not quite sure how that happened.  I think we heard that they might be interested or we put the offer out to them just to try and do something different, and they were into it.  And then Taj Mahal was kind of the same thing.


HT: When you’re planning something out like New Year’s Eve, can you explain what it means to have a setlist versus a songlist?

BB: The setlist is, you just have everything written out, all the songs you’re going to play within that set, in the order the way they’re supposed to go, and you just kind of look at it and you play it.  And the song list is a list of a lot more songs and there’s no order and it kind of leaves a lot more improv and freedom.  We end up playing less songs because we’re not really sure where we’re going.  Whereas, the setlist you kind of know if you’re improving and you need to head towards this song, you kind of know what the tempo is, what the key is, and you know kind of what your goal is.  So the song list kind of opens it up and you can just kind of play for free and then when it sounds kind of like one of your songs, you can just go there.


HT: In the past have you usually done setlists or song lists on New Year’s?

BB: New Year’s we’ve done setlists because it’s just the whole time thing.  It would really be a bummer if you’re out in the crowd and it’s like 12:15 or something and they haven’t played ‘Auld Lang Syne’ yet.  You have to kinda have things planned on New Year’s.  You could do something with it kind of open, but right around Midnight you kind of have to know what time it is.


HT: Do you have any special plans for New Year’s this year?

BB: Yeah, but I can’t tell you.  I mean, what’s the fun in that?


Brendan Bayliss HT:  Okay, fair enough.  In the past year a lot has happened; you guys played the Chicago Theatre for the first time, you did Lollapalooza, you played Red Rocks again, you did a new album, you played with Dave Matthews, you played at the White Sox game…twice.

BB: Yeah, what a crazy year, huh?


HT: Yeah, what’s the highlight in there for you?

BB: Oh, dude, that’s a tough question.  I would say Fuji Rock Fest.  Just ‘cause I’ve never been to Japan, I think.


HT: The Sox game; specifically I noticed you did not wear a Sox jersey either of the days that you played there.  Are you a Cubs fan?

BB: Certainly.  It’d be wrong of me and hypocritical.  They offered everybody Sox jerseys and I said no.  It’s just like, what are you gonna do?  I’m a Cubs fan, I wasn’t trying to be rude, I just wore the Notre Dame jersey.


HT:  In this coming year, there are rumors of a B-sides album coming-up, would you give us some insight on this?

BB: The rumors are true my friend.  I think it’s gonna come out in March.  We’re just finishing up the last of it.  We’re not putting a whole lot of time into it because it is a B-sides.  So we’re just kind of sifting through the old tape and putting it together.


HT: So it’s not something you’re physically recording right now?

BB: Well, no no no.  We did go into the studio to do vocals on one of the tracks that hadn’t had vocals put on it yet.  And Kevin, he’s our front of house guy, he has a lot of really nice gear, and so when we’re on the road sometimes in the hotel room, Joel and Jake were putting synth parts down for one of the songs.  So, there’s little things that we’re doing to it, but if we wanted to do it like a real, real, real release we’d have to take some time off the road and we’re about to do that in January, just take some time off and do another new record.


HT: And do you have anything else planned already for 2007?

BB: Well pretty much we’re not gonna go out on the road till mid-February because we’re gonna be in the studio for six weeks.  So we’re gonna start with recording a bunch of new songs.  And then hopefully have another good year of shows.  That’s all I got really planned.


HT: And finally, your prediction for the college football BCS Champion.  (interview done a few weeks back, well before bowl announcements)

BB: I have a feeling that Ohio State’s gonna win it.


HT: You’re not going to take Notre Dame?

BB: I’d love to have Notre Dame, I’m just being realistic.  I think that Notre Dame’s gonna win their bowl game and we’ll end up top five, top four.  I just have a feeling Ohio State.  I’d love to say Notre Dame, but I’d be full of shit.


HT: Who’s your Super Bowl champion for the year?

BB: I mean, I want the Bears to win it.  They need to get Brady Quinn and then they’ll have it.  As long as Rex plays well, because our defense is fine.  I’m gonna take the Bears.  But here’s the thing.  The thing about Notre Dame is though, if USC was undefeated then we would have a shot to play Ohio State and we would win it, but we’re not even gonna have a chance to play for the championship.  That’s why I have to go with Ohio State.  Just to clarify.


HT:  It could be Michigan as well, but I imagine you’re not a big Michigan fan.

BB:  I won’t even speak the name.  I won’t utter the name.