In the latter part of 2009, Bela Fleck stopped in Gainesville as part of his Africa Project tour. My good friend and fellow banjoist, Scott Anderson, allowed me to tag along as he interviewed Bela for Banjo Newsletter. It was a fascinating experience. I had never met Bela before (nor since). He was relaxed and comfortable, and gave long and thoughtful answers to Scott’s questions. In fact, the material was rich enough that part 1 was featured in the June 2009 issue of Banjo Newsletter, and part 2 was featured in the following issue.
Bela was gracious enough to allow me to interview him as well via email. It was a challenge to find new ground that hadn’t been covered by Scott. I decided to concentrate on his asking Bela about his experiences in Africa, and what it was like working with African musicians. I drew from my own exposure to African musicians from 2007 and 2008 when I visited Gambia and Senegal to study with master Jola akonting (ekonting) players Remi and Ekona Diatta, under the helpful guidance of my hosts Daniel Jatta and Paul and Therese Correa. The Old-Time Herald (http://www.oldtimeherald.org/) has graciously given me permission to post the interview. You can read the interview by clicking http://ats.banjourneys.com/publicfiles/fleck.pdf or download a .pdf of the interview by clicking http://www.banjourneys.com/publicfiles/fleck.pdf