Béla Fleck has detailed plans for a new LP, My Bluegrass Heart, and shared a preview with the sprawling eight-minute single, “Charm School” featuring Billy Strings and Chris Thile. Fleck’s first bluegrass LP in over 20 years is out on September 10th via Renew Records/BMG.
Premiered on Wednesday, “Charm School” finds headmaster Fleck guiding the lesson plan of two of his most devout and prominent pupils in Strings and Thile. The instrumental track straddles the line between sounding like an impromptu front porch jam session while also maintaining the rigidity of a well-orchestrated piece of music.
Fleck said of the track in a statement, “’Charm School’ started out with a banjo tune in C, using loads of harmonics. ‘C harm.’ Get it? In some ways, it’s the wildest and jammiest track on the album, and yet highly melodic and organized. I feel this was the perfect vehicle for this band and the perfect band for this song. And when you think about us musical dogs that sometimes need to go crazy, yet live in a world where we’re expected to follow the rules, maybe it’s the perfect title, too.”
In addition to Strings and Thile, My Bluegrass Heart features a veritable who’s who of bluegrass musicians. The 19-track offering hosts contributions from Sam Bush, David Grisman, Sierra Hull, Molly Tuttle, Michael Cleveland, Jerry Douglas, and more. Fleck has dedicated the album to Tony Rice and Chick Corea, two of his musical collaborators that have recently passed away. The title of Fleck’s new album is a reference to Corea’s classic 1976 LP, My Spanish Heart.
“In my opinion, Béla Fleck is one of the most important musicians of all time,” Strings added. “He bridges the gap between bluegrass, classical, jazz, world music, and everything in between. It seems like there’s no limit to what he can achieve on the banjo.”
Listen to “Charm School” by Béla Fleck featuring Chris Thile and Billy Strings—as well as Strings’ bandmate Royal Masat on bass—below or on your preferred streaming platform and click here to pre-order My Bluegrass Heart. Scroll down to see a full tracklist and album artwork. Fleck will embark on a lengthy tour in support of the new album featuring a rotating cast of musicians from the record. Visit his website for a full list of dates.
Béla Fleck (ft. Billy Strings, Chris Thile) – “Charm School”
[Video: Béla Fleck]
My Bluegrass Heart Tracklist
Vertigo featuring Sam Bush, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Bryan Sutton
The Old North Woods
Slippery Eel featuring Billy Strings and Chris Thile
Hug Point featuring Sierra Hull and Molly Tuttle
Boulderdash featuring Tony Trischka and Noam Pikelny
Our Little Secret
Round Rock featuring Michael Cleveland and Jerry Douglas
Baptist Pumpkin Farm
Charm School featuring Billy Strings and Chris Thile
Strider featuring Sierra Hull and Molly Tuttle
This Old Road featuring David Grisman and Billy Strings
Tentacle Dragon (Revenge of the) featuring Billy Strings
Bum’s Rush featuring Sam Bush, Billy Contreras, Jerry Douglas, Edgar Meyer, and Bryan Sutton
Wheels Up featuring Sierra Hull and Molly Tuttle
Psalm 136 featuring Chris Thile
[H/T Rolling Stone]