Appalachian bluegrass meets Chinese folk music in Abigail Washburn’s music
Colorado Springs, Colo – Jan. 9, 2009 – Abigail Washburn never set out to be a songwriter or a recording artist. Five years ago when she found herself on stage in a smoke-filled Beijing club playing her banjo and singing old-time Appalachian mountain music in Chinese to a packed house, she was as surprised as anyone.
The acclaimed bluegrass ensemble “Abigail Washburn & The Sparrow Quartet” will perform at 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 5 in the Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center’s South Theater, 825 N. Cascade Ave., on the Colorado College campus. The show is free, but tickets are required and available at the Worner Campus Center, 902 N. Cascade Ave. The event is hosted by the InterDisciplinary Experimental Arts program at Colorado College.
Inspired by Washburn's deep interest in Chinese language and culture, the band explores the intersections of American and Chinese folk music, creating a unique fusion of American roots and Chinese folk music.
An Asian studies major at Colorado College, Washburn is an “artist who best embodies the notion of Americana as a worldwide musical language,” according to The Tennessean. A recent review in the Los Angeles Times said, “Washburn stomped and skipped through fiery Appalachian takes on the local songs of Sichuan. Her bilingualism's no gimmick; she nails the dips and peaks of pitch while leading her band in scorching variations on simple, repetitive traditional melodies.”
In their four years together, Abigail Washburn & The Sparrow Quartet have received widespread acclaim for their cross-cultural explorations and extraordinary musicianship. They toured China in 2005 and 2006, and in the fall of 2007 they became the first American musicians to officially tour Tibet on a government-sponsored cultural mission. Their current tour includes more than 100 dates, featuring high-profile performances such as SXSW, Bonnaroo, Merlefest, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
Individually, the band members are superb musicians. Washburn recorded two albums as a member of Uncle Earl; Sparrow Quartet has released two albums to universal acclaim. Imaginative fiddler Casey Driessen received a Grammy nomination in 2006 for “Jerusalem Ridge,” off his debut album 3D (Sugar Hill). He has toured the world with Steve Earle, Darrell Scott, Tim O’Brien and others. Cellist Ben Sollee has been hailed by NPR’s “All Songs Considered” as one of the 10 Great Unknown Artists of 2007 for his new album ‘Learning to Bend,’ and Béla Fleck is a 10-time Grammy winner who has introduced the banjo into jazz, pop, classical and world music settings throughout his trailblazing 30-year career.
Abigail Washburn & The Sparrow Quartet is sponsored by the Robert & Ruby Priddy Charitable Trust, and Colorado College’s Cultural Attractions Fund, music department, and Asian studies.
For more information about the InterDisciplinary Experimental Arts program at Colorado College, visit www.theIDEAspace.com. For directions or disability accommodation at the event, members of the public may call (719) 389-6607.
About Colorado College
Colorado College is a nationally prominent, four-year liberal arts college that was founded in Colorado Springs in 1874. The college operates on the innovative Block Plan, in which its 1,985 undergraduate students study one course at a time in intensive 3½-week blocks. The college also offers a master of arts in teaching degree. For more information, visit www.ColoradoCollege.edu