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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones: Jingle all the Way: Live at the Quick

MY VIDESO FROM: Bela Fleck and the Flecktones - Live at the Quickcenter


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For Bela Fleck, make it Quick

Bela Fleck says Fairfield University's Quick Center is the perfect venue for his Flecktones

By SEAN SPILLANE
Staff writer


When Bela Fleck and the Flecktones was plotting out its current two-month tour, an idea popped into Fleck's mind.

"I thought, 'Hey, let's go back to the Quick Center because we haven't been there since that show,' " Fleck recalled during a recent phone interview from San Francisco, where the band was doing a six-night residency at Yoshi's Jazz Club.

"That show" he was referring to was a night at Fairfield University's Quick Center in 2000 that was captured for a live CD and DVD, called Live at the Quick, which was released in 2002.

"That show has become a historic show for us," Fleck, a master of the banjo, said. "That DVD has ended up being very successful worldwide and we're constantly signing them and talking about it. It will be fun to come back."

So why, with all of the venues the band has played around the world, did it choose the Quick Center for the project?

"It's perfect," Fleck, 50, answered simply. "It was the right venue on the right tour at the right time. We knew we were going to film a show on that tour and we were looking at the schedule for where to film it and we kind of zeroed in on that room. We knew it would be a great place to do it.

"We had played there a couple of times and always thought it was a great room to play in and we've always played well there. And it looked good and it has a good vibe to it. Those are all good reasons."

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones will be performing two shows at the Quick Center Friday night at 7 and 9:30 on a tour promoting Jingle All the Way, a Christmas album that has been a long time coming, according to Fleck.

"We've wanted to do one since the very beginning," he said. "We've always talked about it as one of the things we've got to do. It just took a long time for it to be the right time for us to do it. This was clearly the right time because we were planning to be off the road for most of the year and just do a couple of months of touring at the end and we didn't want to not have new music to play.

"But if we made an album of original Flecktones music, it would be inappropriate to tour for just a few months. It would be just like throwing it away.

"Normally, we tour a new album for a couple of years. It sort of fit the bill in every way because we could tour for two months and when Christmas is over, it's done and we could go back to the other things that we're all developing right now."

Fleck knows the Christmas concerts will be a nice change from past tours with the Flecktones -- Victor Wooten (bass), Jeff Coffin (woodwinds) and Future Man (drumitar, percussion) -- and he appreciates the fact that it is different than a normal trek.

Anyone who has followed Fleck's career knows he is constantly searching for new sounds and works in many different genres -- country, jazz, bluegrass, world music. Fleck has won eight Grammy Awards and has been nominated 20 times, but most notably, he has been nominated in more categories than anyone in Grammy history.

"We make a lot of efforts to keep things fresh, from changing our set list every night to doing new material as often as possible, bringing in guests and playing with a lot of other people outside of the group," Fleck said. "All of those things help us to keep the thing exciting and spontaneous when we come together.

"You can get stale with anything if you do the same show every night and do the same songs. Trying to keep the creative energy flowing while on a tour where you're playing 25 days out of 30 is a challenge.

"You have to continue to throw things in there that force you to be aware and be alive and to respond in different ways than you did yesterday or you get stuck in a routine and it stops being fun."

Fleck has spent much of this year putting the finishing touches on a documentary he filmed with director Sascha Paladino in 2005, "Throw Down Your Heart," which found him performing with musicians in Africa, where the banjo was first created. As a banjo player, the filming hit close to home.

"Absolutely awesome," he said of the trip. "They're some of the greatest musical experiences I've ever had and luckily they're all on film. I'd like to share them and turn people on to some amazing music. If you know me and like what I like, come with me and I'll show you some awesome African acoustic music that's deep and wonderful.

"It's incredible, I have to say. It's one of the most ambitious things I've ever done."

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones performs Friday night at 7 and 9:30 at Fairfield University's Quick Center, 200 Barlow Road. For tickets ($45-$50), call 254-4010 or 1-877-278-7396 or visit www.quickcenter.com.

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