Review by Bill Whiting
Photos by Bernice Whiting
Any time Bela Fleck and The Flecktones visit the southern Ohio region, it is a highly anticipated event, and their return on April 20 at Millett Hall in Oxford, Ohio was no exception. Gracing the grounds of academia at Miami University, Bela and The Flecktones put on a rewarding night of entertainment, focusing in on their Grammy award winning 2011 release, Rocket Science. Opening the show with “Bottle Rocket,” Fleck quickly had the audience’s heads bobbing along to his toe tapping, swirling jazz banjo interplay with the other members of the quartet. Original Flecktone Howard Levy led the ensemble on harmonica on the striking and swinging composition, “Life in Eleven.” A Flecktones night would not be the same without Victor Wooten’s awe inspiring solo, and the bassist did not disappoint, delivering a brain altering depth of sound perception peppered with layered loops and sonic effects. The steady backbeat of brother, Roy “Future Man” Wooten, on the percussion sampling Synthaxe, also known as a “drumitar” because of it’s visual likeness to an electric guitar, influenced the bouncing vibes of the joyously grooving piece, “Prickly Pear.” Each Flecktone seems to react to one another musically in a naturally telepathic manner, and the journey back to their beginnings on the medley of “Reflections of Lucy/Irish Medley/ Storm Warning” had more than a few Miami University students dancing in the aisles. Head Flecktone Bela Fleck wowed everyone inside Millett Hall with an extended, jaw dropping tribute to the late Earl Scruggs. Then the group coalesced around the intense, revolving improvisations inherent inside of the classically jamming masterpiece, “Sweet Pomengranates.” Indeed, the Bela Fleck and The Flecktones experience at Millett Hall in Oxford, Ohio on April 20 was a ravishing treat for the mind, body and the soul. A truly shining moment in time on a rainy night, and a vividly transcendant concert for the ages, Bela and The Flecktones at Miami University left everyone with big grins and happy hearts steeped in the hope that they will return to the area again the near future.