I’m going to see the big flecktone rip it up with Toumani Diabate this evening. Very excited; I’ve always been into music, but Bela was the guy who made me hear music in a different way and my entire musical personality shifted when I heard him play at the end of that Dave Mathews cd and thought to myself: “that’s an interesting sound. I think I’ll find out who this guy is.” In recent years, of course, I’ve become much more interested in African music, and I hardly listen to anything else these days; at the same time, I’ve taken up the banjo and hardly play any of my other instruments. So it’s hard not to presume that this entire album and tour are, more or less, Bela Fleck’s gift to me. I mean, seriously, a Bela Fleck tour in Africa? You might as well just put my name on it.
Bonus non-solipsistic blog content, from the director of the documentary movie based on Bela’s trip:
As we tried to raise funds to complete the project, I found that potential funders were very interested in knowing what Béla’s “journey” was. How had he changed during the trip? What was his “transformation?” I thought about it a lot…and realized that actually, Béla DIDN’T change. There WASN’T a huge transformation that took place. He went to Africa with the goal of making great music with great musicians, and he did.
It all got me thinking about what I DIDN’T want the film to be: another story about a white guy who goes to a foreign country and is somehow changed by the experience. There are just so many stereotypes and pitfalls inherent in that approach, and my biggest hope was that the film would present a view of Africa that was anything but stereotypical.
Not that there’s anything wrong with the “journey” narrative, but I love that Sascha is smart enough to be wary of it (and it makes me really optimistic about seeing the movie).
Bonus solipsistic blog content:
I once saw the Flecktones in Slovenia, kicking off their European tour, and we got to sneak in to see the soundcheck beforehand, basically because no one cared to stop us. Amazing experience, watching Fleck school the sax player on long crazy wild jazz riffs. But the high point was, afterwards, when we went up with the other dozen or so people in the room and had a conversation with the band. After a very pleasant to and fro (Bela was standoffish, but the others were incredibly friendly), Victor wooten looked at me and said, without a trace of irony, “Your English is great!”