This WeekPublished December 11, 2013 in Music
When people speak about modern banjo players, the first name that they mention is typically Béla Fleck. And for good reason. Béla has been pushing the musical boundaries on his quirky five-string instrument for decades. While most see the banjo as a bluegrass instrument, Béla has never been willing to be contained by genre or rules.
After quickly making a name for himself as a progressive bluegrass musician, in 1981 he was asked to join New Grass Revival. He was a driving force behind their revolutionary sound. With Béla’s help, New Grass Revival showed the world that bluegrass instruments need not be limited to bluegrass licks, progressions and song structures. Incorporating elements of Rock and Roll, soul, R&B, blues and anything else that worked, New Grass Revival opened the doors for scores of young bands out there today who are using banjos, mandolins, upright basses, acoustic guitars and fiddles to play music, the likes of which Bill Monroe could never have imagined. It is hard to imagine a world with bands like Leftover Salmon, The String Cheese Incident, Yonder Mountain String Band and Trampled by Turtles, had New Grass Revival not been around to pave the way.