Bela Fleck Interview

Bela Fleck and The Flecktones offer music lovers a subtle change — a CD filled with instrumental music only, no vocals.
Titled "UFO Tofu," it's been released by Warner Bros. Records.
Bela Fleck and The Flecktones make a stop in Syracuse on May 6, at Symphony Hall.
We talked to Bela Fleck about his music.

Q. The last time we heard anything about the banjo was probably "The Dueling Banjos."
A. That's true. It's been awhile.

Q. Do you find a growing interest in banjo music?
A. I think a lot of people like banjo music. They just don't get to hear it very often. They would like traditional banjo music if they heard it more often, but it's not part of the normal thing. This band is probably the most exposure the banjo has had in awhile. So, a lot of people are remembering how much they like the instrument.

Q. You were up for a Grammy this year for Best Instrumental. Did you win?
A. No, I haven't won, but I've had seven nominations now. So, it's a little bit of a tease, but it's a great thing to be nominated.

Q. A name that pops up in your bio. is Tony Trischka. Isn't he from Syracuse?
A. He was my teacher. He's my very good friend, and he's from up there. He's gonna be opening the show that we're doing up there, so that's gonna be a real special reunion for us.

Q. You've traveled all over the world. You've been to India, Morocco, and Nepal. What do you learn from traveling to places like that?
A. Well, I always like to get musical input. When I go there, I buy CD's. I go hear musicians. Sometimes I'm able to get together with musicians and learn things from them. I've always tried to do that when I traveled.

Q. This group used to be a quartet. Now you're a trio. Does that mean that one person has to work harder now, or do you all work harder?
A. We all work harder. It's proven to be a great challenge and a great thing for our musicianship.

Q. What happens to you and the group after this tour?
A. We just finished an album, about 2 weeks ago. It's going to be coming out in August. It features the trio, and also has a couple of special guests — Bruce Hornsby played some keyboards for us. Branford Marsalis played some saxophones. So, we'll be setting up getting ready for that. We'll probably be going to Europe in July. That's pretty much what's going to be happening. The other thing is I just did music for "The Beverly Hillbillies" movie. I got to actually play the Beverly Hillbillies theme for them which was cool, since that was the first thing I ever heard on a banjo. So, now I got to do it in a main way. It's gonna be a pretty good movie, coming out on Thanksgiving.

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