SANTA BARBARA — My Bluegrass Heart, which stars Grammy-winning banjoist Béla Fleck, performed last week at The Arlington Theatre.
The concert was part of UCSB Arts & Lectures’ “Creating Hope” initiative.
“They nearly always come back,” Mr. Fleck said in a news release. “All the people that leave bluegrass. I had a strong feeling that I’d be coming back as well.”
That return is shown in “My Bluegrass Heart,” the album by Mr. Fleck and his band of the same name. It was released on Sept. 10 by Renew Records.
In addition to Mr. Fleck, My Bluegrass Heart features mandolinist Sam Bush, fiddler Stuart Duncan, dobro player Jerry Douglas, bassist Edgar Meyer and guitarist Bryan Sutton.
“My Bluegrass Heart” is a third in a trilogy of albums that started with “Drive” (1988) and continued with “The Bluegrass Sessions” (1988).
“I don’t come from the South, and I always felt like there were people who were more truly focused on doing that bluegrass thing really well,” Mr. Fleck said. “What I tended to want to do more was expand the banjo’s role and look for new things to do with it. Despite that, I was always a bluegrass guy first and foremost. That was certainly the root of my musical soul.”
“I like taking that instrumentation, and seeing what I can do with it – how I can stretch it, what I can take from what I’ve learned from other kinds of music, and what can apply for this combination of musicians, the very particularly ‘bluegrass’ idea of how music works, and what can be accomplished that might be unexpected, but still has deep connections to the origins,” he said.
Mr. Fleck said it’s the musicians that make the difference in whatever genre he’s playing.
“That’s my dirty little secret,” he said with a laugh, “that I don’t play that differently from genre to genre. It’s about who I surround myself with. Bluegrass, though — it’s central to everything I do.”
— Dave Mason