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Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn Announce Companion EP to Debut Album

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Banjo BanjoBéla Fleck and Abigail Washburn (“two monsters of the banjo” – NPR All Things Considered) are excited to announce Banjo Banjo (August 21 / Rounder), the companion EP to their debut duo album, hailed by The New Yorker as “a stunning collection of eloquent duets” and profiled on CBS Sunday Morning.

Available digitally August 21 and on CD October 2 and vinyl October 30 (both exclusively through Barnes and Noble), the EP features three previously unreleased tracks paired with live versions of Abigail’s murder ballad “Shotgun Blues,” the duo’s minor-key take on “Railroad,” and the instrumental “Banjo Banjo,” written for their 2 year-old son, Juno.

The previously unreleased studio songs are arrangements of age-old Chinese folk, Bartok and metal. “Hao Hua Hong,” (“Beautiful Red Flower”), sung by Washburn in Mandarin (she’s near-fluent), is adapted from the Buyi people who live high in the mountain forests of Guizhou (the video premiered on NPR Music for Chinese New Year). Béla honors his namesake with “Evening in Transylvania,” and the centerpiece for the EP might just be their instrumental of Europe’s “The Final Countdown,” arranged for the A.V. Club’s Undercover series. “I never heard this song before,” Fleck tells the Onion. “Because I was really busy in the '80s.”

"Béla Fleck has been experimenting with the banjo for decades, taking the instrument into many genres, from rock to jazz (with the Flecktones and in duets with Chick Corea and others) to classical,” writes The New Yorker. In the process, he’s won fifteen Grammy Awards. A few years ago, he married Abigail Washburn, a similarly freewheeling musician. She is a gifted clawhammer banjo player, a seraphic vocalist, and an uninhibited songwriter…”

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