May 28, 2009
Strategic Marriage Will Consolidate Power Within Single Banjo Sovereignty
Fleck, Washburn promise male heir, Holy Banjo Emperor
NASHVILLE — After lengthy negotiations between their two camps, banjoists Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn have agreed to marry one another, advancing their long campaign to unify the progressive and old-time banjo empires under a single sovereign ruler.
The carefully calculated union aims to create one insurmountable banjo juggernaut whose historic domain will span old-time, bluegrass, jazz, fusion, European classical, African and Chinese styles.
While strategic considerations were clearly primary, sources close to Fleck and Ms. Washburn also indicate that the future bride and groom “barely detest each other at all,” which may have facilitated the negotiations somewhat.
“Historically that factor has also been relevant to the viability of such arranged marriages of power,” said a K. Scharf, a Yale historian.
Fleck, the King of Progressive Banjo, dominates a vast empire encompassing most genres of banjo music. But he has always stopped short of mounting a full-fledged conquest of old-time territories.
Ms. Washburn, the renowned Duchess of Old-Time Banjo and Song, offers a peaceful way to fill in the gap.
For her own part, Ms. Washburn has tirelessly sought to expand her domain beyond old-time music, executing successful ventures into modern areas such as improvised music and electronica.
She has even gone so far as to achieve fluency in Chinese, establishing primacy in a vast region long considered unconquerable by banjo players.
“That move required tremendous foresight, coming as it did before the global financial collapse, and it speaks to Abby’s impressive capacity for long term strategic planning,” said Riley Baugus, an old-time musician.
According to aides close to both parties, the marriage offers the prospect of a male heir who would carry on the Fleck-Washburn banjo empire into future generations, securing a legacy of greatness.
Said fiddler Casey Driessen, “Three words: Holy. Banjo. Emperor.”