World's Best Banjo Players To Perform


Last updated 7/23/2018 at 4:44pm

Béla Fleck

Banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck will host a one-of-a-kind concert at Brevard Music Center, featuring himself and four of today's greatest banjo players, on Saturday, Aug. 18.

The concert will be the culmination of the first Blue Ridge Banjo Camp and will include performances by Fleck and the four other world-renowned banjo players who are instructors at the camp, as well as camp participants and members of the Steep Canyon Rangers.

"Béla is considered by many to be the world's greatest banjo player," said Woody Platt, guitarist and vocalist for the Steep Canyon Rangers and co-founder of event promoter Mountain Song Productions.

"When you have the opportunity to not only see the best in the world, but to see him with a curated group of people who he thinks are the very best, I think it's a unique thing for all music lovers."

The performance will provide a rare opportunity for music lovers to see a variety of differing banjo styles in a single concert, Platt said. The performers will include:

•Béla Fleck, banjo virtuoso and 15-time Grammy Award winner. Fleck has been nominated in more categories than any other instrumentalist in Grammy history and collaborates with an extraordinarily diverse group of musicians: jazz artists like Chick Corea and Marcus Roberts, bluegrass greats like Sam Bush, African musicians such as Oumou Sangare and Toumani Diabate and symphony orchestras around the world.

He and his wife, Abigail Washburn, took home the 2016 Grammy for Best Folk Album, and he continues to perform with his band, Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, after 25 years.

•Tony Trischka, whose numerous recording credits include his acclaimed 2009 release "Territory." This International Bluegrass Music Association (IMBA) Banjo Player of the Year winner has been a banjo innovator for 45 years, and produced Steve Martin's 2011 album "Rare Bird Alert." In addition to being Fleck's personal banjo teacher, he is one of the most sought-after instructors in the business.

•Kristin Scott Benson, four-time winner of the IMBA Banjo Player of the Year award. She has been a member of the Grammy-nominated Grascals since 2008, and has attained a national identity as one of today's top bluegrass banjo players.

•Bluegrass legend Steve Cooley, who has performed for five U.S. presidents and has toured extensively in North America, Western Europe and Japan with bands such as the Dillards, Bluegrass Alliance, the Cumberlands, the Goins Brothers and the Katie Laur Band.

•Mike Munford, a 40-year veteran of the bluegrass scene whose fluid style allows him to blend traditional and contemporary influences into his music. This IMBA Banjo Player of the Year winner currently tours with Grammy-nominated con-temporary bluegrass band Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen.

The extraordinary line-up has drawn students from around the world to the camp, which will take place at Brevard Music Center during the week preceding the concert.

Mountain Song Productions co-founder John Felty said he and Platt had been thinking about starting a camp for several years and got the ball rolling when Fleck came to perform at the Mountain Song Festival.

They expected the inaugural camp to be popular, but response was so strong they had to limit admission to 100 students.

"Béla's debatably the most influential banjo player ever, and there's a lot of well-established, yet up-and-coming banjo players who would just jump at the chance to be in an environment like this with Béla Fleck," said Felty. "We had to cut it off because we didn't want to create an experience where you lose the intimacy."

Felty said he is excited about the final concert because it will be a unique experience for both the musicians and the audience, and there are no pre-conceived expectations.

"A lot of times, you go to see a concert, and you know the band, and you know what they're going to play," he said. "The fact that Béla has these other virtuoso banjo players on stage with him in a collaborative environment, you just don't know what's going to happen. Not knowing how it's going to unfold is really exciting, because it's in those moments that special things tend to happen."

The concert will be Saturday, Aug. 18, at 7:30 p.m. in Brevard Music Center's Whittington-Pfohl Auditorium. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the Blue Ridge Banjo Camp website,

Tony Trischka


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