Psalm 136 video from Béla Fleck and Chris Thile

Béla Fleck has released a live music video for another of the tracks for his current project, My Bluegrass Heart, a double album primarily consisting if his new compositions in a more bluegrass vein. The two-disc set finds him in collaboration with a set of true bluegrass superstars, with support from Sierra Hull, Bryan Sutton, Michael Cleveland, Molly Tuttle, Noam Pikelny, Jerry Douglas, David Grisman, Billy Strings, and more.

Today’s new video is a duet between Béla and Chris Thile on one called Psalm 136. The piece is an instrumental, but named for the ancient piece of Biblical Hebrew poetry whose refrain runs, “His steadfast love endures forever.” Though written as verse, these hymns and prayers are also meant to be sung, as they still are in contemporary Jewish and Christian rituals. Béla’s lovely arrangement captures some of the call and response flavor of its namesake.

He explained a bit about the original recording for My Bluegrass Heart.

 “Late one night after recording all day together with Billy Strings, I asked Chris if he’d consider doing one more song together, a duo. At the far end of the song, I promised a fantastic Meursault would be opened. He agreed and we proceeded to learn, arrange and record Psalm 136.

Before the dawn’s early light grazed the front window panes, we had this track down and we were enjoying the bottle, which lived up to its rep. I was first exposed to this melody on an album called Jewish Uganda, and I fell for the sound of the kids singing this simple melody. Eventually I learned the theme, and it naturally led to some new composing of ideas that went with it. Chris of course took it to the moon, as he is wont to do.”

Béla and Chris recorded this off stage during the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in June of this year.


Fleck has also announced this week a show early next year at Carnegie Hall in New York City on January 9. It will feature almost all of the players from the album in the single show, including Sam Bush, Michael Cleveland, Jerry Douglas, Stuart Duncan, Sierra Hull, Edgar Meyer, Justin Moses, Mark Schatz, Billy Strings, Bryan Sutton, Chris Thile, and Molly Tuttle.

For Béla, this is an exciting, homecoming sort of show, especially for a native New Yorker who, like most musical artists, always dreamed of playing Carnegie Hall.

“Calling something the ‘concert of a lifetime’ sure sounds like hype, and in many cases it would be. But not this time! At least for my world and my music, this is an unprecedented opportunity to bring some of the brightest instrumental lights in bluegrass—or any other music for that matter—to the incredible Carnegie Hall stage.”

Ticket information for all of the My Bluegrass Heart tour dates can be found online.

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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.