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Bela Fleck, banjo virtuoso

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Indy: The current Bela Fleck & the Flecktones' CD, The Hidden Land, features just the four-member group, whereas the previous release, Little Worlds , was a three-disc monstrosity with a huge cast of guest musicians. Why the different approach on The Hidden Land?

BF: I got a little nervous that that would be the Flecktones' only identity, as sort of this massive thing where there's always a bunch of extra musicians around, and sort of a freak show of great musicians all ganging together. I was thinking, well, that's a great part of our trip ... [but] I just think if that's all you do, I don't know, it starts to be the same. You've got to find ways to make the music different.

Indy: The Hidden Land was recorded before the group went on a year-long hiatus in 2005. What was the thinking in doing the CD and leaving it on the shelf for a year?

BF: I was trying to be smart in the planning and say [that] when we come back, it would be great to come back with a new album, the excitement that a new album generates and the excitement that a band coming back on the road after a year generates. It seemed to me that it would be a way to focus the whole thing and make it a real special Flecktones time when we came back.

Indy: Was there ever a question that the group would reconvene after the hiatus?

BF: At first, I was a little worried about it. I was afraid the band might not come together if we took a year off. It turned out to be a great thing for me as well as, I think, everybody, both in terms of appreciating the group and in terms of having outside experiences that are healthy and good for musicians to have.

Alan Sculley

At Denver's Paramount Theatre, Feb. 10.

  • Bela Fleck, banjo virtuoso

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