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Béla Fleck and the original Flecktones reunite for tour

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Béla Fleck & The Flecktones “The Original Lineup,” will take the stage Sunday for the Shenandoah Valley Music Festival’s last concert of the season. Courtesy photo

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By Laetitia Clayton-lclayton@nvdaily.com

The Shenandoah Valley Music Festival is ending summer with a bang, as Béla Fleck & The Flecktones "The Original Lineup" takes the stage Sunday night for the festival's final show of the season.

Fleck performed at the festival in 2009 as part of his "The Africa Project" tour, and was joined by African kora player Toumani Diabate.

"I thought, 'Hm, world music in the Shenandoah Valley,'" said SVMF Executive Director Dennis Lynch, who was unsure of how popular it would be. "It was the second-best attended concert of that season."

Lynch said he heard rumors at the time that Fleck may be touring in 2011 with his original band, and he knew then he wanted Orkney Springs to be one of their stops.

"I love the Flecktones myself personally," Lynch said. "And I know there are a lot of other people in the area who do."

Lynch said this is the band's first extended tour since 1992, and calls their music "incredible, indescribable," ranging from jazz to bluegrass to classical to African.

Fleck is considered by many to be the premier banjo player in the world, and he has released more than 40 recordings since his first, "Tasty Licks" in 1978, according to his website, www.belafleck.com.

The band's newest CD, "Rocket Science," released in May, marks the first recording by the original group in nearly two decades, with pianist/harmonica player Howard Levy back in the fold with Fleck and brothers bassist Victor Wooten and percussionist and "drumitarist" Roy "Futureman" Wooten, according to the website.

Over the years, each member of the original band has pursued his own projects and careers, but they agree that Flecktones music was calling them back together, the site says. The new album sees the Grammy Award-winning quartet creating some of the most forward-thinking music of their long, storied career, it says.

"All the different things I do come together to make a new 'hybrid' Béla," Fleck says on the site. "Everybody else in the group is doing the same things, collaborating with different people, and pursuing a wide variety of ideas, so when we come together and put all of our separate soups into one big stockpot it turns into a very diverse concoction."

Levy, who left the band in 1992 to go his own way, began working on new material with Fleck last year, the site says. And the Wooten brothers also contributed songs to the new CD.

"There's a special thing that happens when the four of us get together and play," Levy says on the site. "We all have the same attitude of trying to do things that we haven't done before and coincidentally, no one else has either."

The show at Orkney Springs, which will be the band's stop between New York and New Orleans, begins at 7 p.m. Sunday. Visit www.musicfest.org for tickets and information, or call 459-3396.

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