The Daily Tar Heel

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Friday February 3rd

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones to end Memorial Hall's season

The recipients of Grammy Awards in nine categories — the most in the awards’ history — will play tonight in Memorial Hall.

Carolina Performing Arts will present Bela Fleck and the Flecktones as their season’s last performance.

See the show

Time: 7:30 p.m. tonight
Location: Memorial Hall

Ned Luberecki, a banjo player, teacher and DJ for the SiriusXM radio show “Bluegrass Junction,” said that though Fleck plays the banjo and is influenced by bluegrass, the band is closer to jazz.

“It’s jazz, but it’s not a type of jazz band that you could point to another jazz band and say ‘well, they play like them,’” he said.

UNC American studies professor Robert Cantwell said Fleck’s understanding of the banjo is similar to jazz musician John Coltrane’s understanding of the saxophone.

He said Fleck’s expertise allows him to improvise as well as play traditional bluegrass breakdowns during shows.

“He probably knows the banjo better than any banjo player alive,” Cantwell said.

Cantwell will deliver a lecture before the performance about the history of the banjo and its relationship to bluegrass music.

He said he will discuss the banjo’s African origins and its role in North Carolina.

Luberecki said that Fleck is the most innovative banjo player to come along since Earl Scruggs — who was a huge influence of Fleck.

“He’s done more to be able to fit the five-string banjo into more types of music than anyone else,” he said.

“He’s one of the most technically proficient musicians anyone will ever see on any instrument.”

Luberecki said that many of his banjo students wanted to learn the instrument after hearing Scruggs’ songs — but now, they’re inspired to take up the instrument after hearing Fleck play.

“Bela Fleck was able to reach as broad of an audience as Earl Scruggs did back in those days,” Luberecki said.

Mark Nelson, marketing director for the Executive Office for the Arts, said Tuesday that 1,309 of 1,330 tickets had been sold.

The 400 tickets reserved for students were all sold out.

Nelson said Fleck’s show will end the Carolina Performing Arts season on a high note.

He said Carolina Performing Arts looks for artists from a variety of genres that are unique, innovative and at the top of their field, and Fleck is no exception.

“We’re never gonna do a cookie cutter performer at memorial hall,” Nelson said.

Nelson said this is Fleck’s third visit to campus, largely because the audience in Chapel Hill embraces his music so heartily.

“Bela Fleck is one of those artists that we could bring back every year and we would have a good response every time he comes back,” he said.

“It’s just a perfect fit.”

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