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The Africa Project


(2/1) Often recognized as the world's most accomplished and diverse banjo player, on Friday, March 5th at 8 pm, Banjo Master Bťla Fleck joins African musicians Bassekou Kouyate, Anania Ngolia, and John Kitime for a night of amazing, ground-breaking music at the Weinberg Center. At the age of 15, Bťla Fleck was inspired by the bluegrass sounds of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, and decided to pick up the banjo. Since then, Bťla has earned 11 Grammys and 27 nominations, and has collaborated with national and international musicians. Sponsored by the Weinberg Center for the Artsí Tivoli Society, this performance marks the first time that Bťla Fleck will appear on the Weinberg stage. Donít miss Bťla and his newest project, The Africa Project, one night only, Friday, March 5, 2010 at 8 p.m. at the Weinberg Center. Tickets range from $25 - $45.

In 1981, Bťla was invited to join the progressive bluegrass band New Grass Revival (NGR). Through the course of five albums, the band charted new territory with its blend of bluegrass, rock, and country music. During the next nine years, Bťla continued to record solo albums, including the ground breaking 1988 album Drive. In 1988, Dick Van Kleek, Artistic Director for the PBS Lonesome Pine Series, offered Bťla a solo show. Bťla combined his banjo with a string quartet and a jazz based combo for a performance that turned out to be the first appearance of Bťla Fleck and the Flecktones. Famed for a non-stop touring schedule, the Flecktones now reach more than 500,000 audience members annually and have received several Grammy awards. Despite phenomenal success, Bťla felt he was missing something: he wanted to understand the roots of banjo music. That search led him back tpo Africa.

For The Africa Project, Bťla Fleck traveled to Uganda, Tanzania, Senegal, Mali, South Africa, and Madagascar for collaborations with local musicians to explore the African origins of the banjo, the prototype of which was brought to American shores by African slaves. Transcending barriers of language and culture, Fleck found common ground with musicians ranging from villagers to international superstars to create some of the most meaningful music of his career. The result is the phenomenal music of Throw Down Your Heart ≠ the third volume in the Tales from the Acoustic Planet series and the title of the now award-winning travel documentary created on the road.

Currently touring 15 cities, Bťla performs with Bassekou Kouyate, Anania Ngolia, and John Kitime. Bassekou Kouyate (Mali) is one of the true masters of the ngoni, the ancient forerunner of the banjo found throughout West Africa. His band Ngoni Ba, translated as "Big Ngoni," plays repertoire from the region of Segu, the heart of Bambara culture. Anania Ngoliga (Tanzania) is a blind multi-instrumentalist and singer. For The Africa Project he plays the Wagogo thumb piano, a deep-toned instrument called ilimba. Wagogo traditional music has a distinctively mysterious scale. John Kitime (Tanzania) is a guitarist and singer who has led the acclaimed Kilimanjaro band for over 30 years. John is also the head of the Tanzanian Musicianís Union with a deep knowledge of the history of Tanzanian music. John served as the field producer for the award-winning film, Throw Down Your Heart, the inspiration for the Africa Project tour.

To purchase tickets, call the Weinberg Center for the Arts at 301-600-2828 or online at

The Weinberg Center for the Arts, a municipal facility of the City of Frederick, is located at 20 West Patrick Street in downtown Frederick, Maryland. The historic theatre opened in 1926 as the Tivoli, and was donated to the City of Frederick in 1978. Today as one of the regionís premier presenting facilities, the 1,200 seat Weinberg Center offers professional LIVE! Series, including dance, music, theatre, family performances and films, weekday performances for students, and classic movies. Performance space and professional services are available to a variety of community arts groups, civic and business organizations, and other arts promoters. Programming at the Weinberg Center for the Arts is made possible with support from the City of Frederick, Frederick County Government, Maryland State Arts Council, Frederick Arts Council, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, The Frederick News-Post, Enforme Interactive and other corporate and individual donors. For more information about upcoming events at the Weinberg Center, please call the Box Office at 301-600-2828 or visit

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