Fleck/Washburn banjos from China on YouTube

Sparrow Quartet, Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn in ChinaWe posted last week about some of the press coverage from China of the current Sparrow Quartet tour. The band features Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn on picked and non-picked banjo respectively, with Casey Driessen on fiddle and Ben Sollee on cello.

There is a fascinating video up on YouTube that shows the Sparrow Quartet jamming with members of Hanggai, a Mongolian folk band, on the roof of a building in Beijing. The clip opens with the assembled musicians playing what I presume is a traditional Chinese melody, and progresses to Bela showing them the traditional fiddle tune, Sourwood Mountain.

Interviews with the musicians are conducted in their native languages, with English subtitles provided on the YouTube video, and Chinese subtitles on this version of the video on tudou.com.

The part that I found fascinating is the common musical ground the musicians found despite the cultural gulf between their backgrounds. Washburn, who has studied in China and speaks the language well, is essential to making this musical bridge work. Both she and Bela discuss the reactions to their music in China in the course of this clip.

The video is also available on the Danwei.TV site, which has some additional links about this tour, which now seems to be concluded.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.