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5/22 - Terence Simien & the Zydeco Experience
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"That feeling I get as a banjo player who's often in the middle of music that doesn't normally have banjo in it, [is] that someone will stand up and point at me and yell 'what the heck is he doing here!' "
Bela Fleck

An Interview with Bela Fleck

MIM to Host Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn in Concert 6/10

By Mariah Fleming

Bela Fleck & Abigail Washington

Bela Fleck, widely regarded as the finest banjo player in the world, and Abigail Washburn, whose spellbinding singing and clawhammer banjo have garnered international acclaim, return to MIM in two shows on June 10th. They first wowed audiences at MIM in May 2014. The two met at a square dance about ten years ago. We’ve all heard the old romance movie line, "We could make beautiful music together!" In the case of these celebrated banjoists, it's more than true. When Fleck heard Washburn sing, he knew something extraordinary was happening. Indeed. Their unique musical collaboration is being embraced with enthusiasm everywhere they tour.

For nearly a decade as a couple, in spite of both being superb musicians with highly acclaimed banjo expertise in common, Fleck and Washburn basically kept their musical professions separate. They married in 2010, Fleck wrote a banjo concerto in 2013, Washburn released her acclaimed "City of Refuge" in 2011, they had a baby, Juno, in 2013 and finally released their self-titled duo album in October 2014. The album could have been called Banjo Love, but it's baby love that underpins their remarkable collaboration. Making a bus their home, with baby boy Juno and half a dozen or so banjos aboard, an idyllic life of purposeful wanderlust appears to be the couple's musical journey.

It seems their match is infused with serendipity. After college, Washburn took a u-turn. She was a Chinese-speaking lobbyist in training, on the way to law school in China. Before leaving for law school, Washburn bought a banjo, traveled in her red truck through Appalachia, ended up jamming at a bluegrass convention in Kentucky and being invited to Nashville to make a record. Since then she's been recording and touring, breaking through boundaries both musical and political. In the Sparrow Quartet, Washburn and Fleck were the only American group ever invited to play in Tibet.

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From Cotton Fields to Country Stages A New Generation of "Outlaw Royalty"

Pick of the Week

Whey Jennings

Whey Jennings, grandson of country legends Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter, is performing with his band The Unwanted, plus special guests, at the world famous Handlebar J Steakhouse and Saloon in Scottsdale on Friday, May 22nd. Whey has been described as "a larger than life outlaw, with a tender heart, and humble manners." Prior to Whey Jennings and The Unwanted taking the stage, catch the breathtaking desert views while listening to live music on the HBJ patio from 5 to 7, and take advantage superb food and libations at the west's best happy hour from 5 to 8.

Born into "Outlaw Country" royalty, Whey says he is excited for the opportunity to play a favorite club of his Grandpa Waylon Jennings and his Grandma Jessi Colter. Grandpa Waylon performed at Handlebar J many times, and Grandma Jessi still performs there at special events. Uncle Shooter Jennings has also performed at Handlebar J, making Whey the 3rd generation of Jennings' to grace the Handlebar J stage. Whey recalls his first experience performing on stage at about 6 or 7 years old.

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"A couple of years before Pete Seeger's death I asked him, "How are you feeling about the world?" and he said, "I have never been so hopeful!" Judy Collins

Judy Collins Performing at MIM in April

An Interview with Judy Collins
By Mariah Fleming

Judy Collins

Judy Collins, whose award winning music captured the hearts of millions in the 1960's, is returning to MIM for two shows on Thursday April 16 and Saturday April 18 at 7:30. The music of Judy Collins continues to enchant and inspire new generations of fans. Her exceptional talent has yielded an extraordinary life. Along the way, she has garnered gold and platinum selling albums as well as top ten hits. Her rendition of Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" is in the Grammy Hall of Fame. The song, from her landmark 1967 album "Wildflowers," sent her career into the stratosphere. Her captivating version of "Send in the Clowns" from the Stephen Sondheim play "A Little Night Music" won a Grammy for Song of the Year. Collins herself possesses a masterly skill for songwriting. In a delightful conversation last week, we talked about a myriad of subjects including her childhood as a piano prodigy, her roots in Greenwich Village, her relationship with artists like Leonard Cohen and Richard Farina and her thoughts about the world she grew up in versus the world we live in now. My conversation with Judy Collins follows.

Q. You've appeared at MIM before, and it's great that you're going to perform at MIM again. Is there something special about the MIM that brings you back?
A. Yes. We love it there, that's a very special place. The sound quality is very fine. I'm very happy I'm going to be there again.

Q.You do a lot of dates each year. How is it for you to tour after all these years?
A. I love it. I hope I’m getting better at it.

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