While, in recent years, the banjo hasn't received much recognition in mainstream music in its own right, American banjo player Béla Fleck is aiming to change all that. A virtuoso of jazz, bluegrass, folk, and classical music, tickets for Fleck's festival tour dates have become highly sought after and his albums have won him eight Grammys; not including the Grammys he's won collaboratively. Béla Fleck is currently on months worth of tour dates in 2011 with his talented band, The Flecktones, who's new album, Rocket Science, has delighted serious bluegrass fans worldwide.
Béla Fleck's interest in the banjo began altering hearing the theme song for the Beverly Hillbillies and received his first banjo at the age of 15. Almost immediately after graduating high school, Fleck traveled from New York to Boston and released his well received, debut solo album, Crossing the Tracks. Despite the album's warm reception, Fleck continued to play small tour dates before joining the progressive bluegrass group, New Grass Revival, in 1981. The band sneered in the face of traditional bluegrass by playing rock, R&B, and even reggae hits. Fleck continued to release solo albums and, just a year before New Grass Revival broke up in 1989, Fleck released his hit album, Drive. The album led to bigger and better tour dates at bluegrass festivals and was nominated for Best Bluegrass Album in the first year the category was created.
Sensing the end of New Grass Revival, Béla Fleck created Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, which became not only a vehicle for Fleck's bluegrass talent, but also for fusion and jazz. In fact, the band experiments with so many styles that Fleck has been nominated for more Grammys in differing categories than any other musician in history. Béla Fleck and the Flecktones have won four Grammys in two different categories since 1988 and have pioneered the genre sometimes known as "blu-bop." During his tenure with the band, Fleck continued to release solo albums and perform acclaimed tour dates, including three Grammy wins in the past two years for albums in his Throw Down Your Heart series.
Béla Fleck is currently in the midst of five months worth of 2011 tour dates with his Flecktones. Fleck's concert schedule will end on November 20, and as the concert dates criss-cross the country in a matter of days, fans hoping to catch this banjo master will have to check specific dates for themselves. With Béla Fleck's career continually peaking, fans shouldn't miss this opportunity to see maybe the world's best banjo player on his tour dates in 2011.