Béla Fleck Announces New Album ‘My Bluegrass Heart’ & Shares Single Featuring Billy Strings & Chris Thile

Check out the animated video for "Charm School" and a full list of Béla's 'My Bluegrass Heart' tour dates.

By Scott Bernstein Jul 28, 2021 9:52 am PDT

Banjoist Béla Fleck returns with My Bluegrass Heart, his first bluegrass album in over 20 years, which arrives through Renew Records/BMG on September 10. Today, Fleck unveiled My Bluegrass Heart single “Charm School” featuring guitarist Billy Strings and mandolinist Chris Thile. Béla also detailed dates for Fall 2021 legs of his all-star My Bluegrass Heart tour and a celebration of the album at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium.

Fleck will be joined by Michael Cleveland, Sierra Hull, Justin Moses, Mark Schatz and Bryan Sutton for a tour spanning September 17 – October 1 that includes stops in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Ohio and North Carolina.

Then, Béla teams with Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer and Sutton for My Bluegrass Heart performances running from November 27 – December 19. Fleck’s brings the supergroup to DeVos Performance Hall in Grand Rapids, Michigan on November 27 and the Clyde Theatre in Fort Wayne, Indiana on November 28. Dates in Milwaukee, St. Louis, Des Moines, Salina (Kansas), Denver, Jackson (Wyoming), Portland (Oregon), Seattle and Eugene follow.

A swing through California comes next along with a concert in Reno. Fox Tucson Theatre in Tucson, Arizona hosts the final My Bluegrass Heart show of 2021 on December 19. Bush, Cleveland, Douglas, Duncan, Hull, Meyer, Moses, Schatz, Sutton, Strings, Thile and Molly Tuttle will be among the banjoist’s guests at The Ryman on January 7, 2022. Head to BelaFleck.com for ticketing information.

“They nearly always come back,” said Béla. “All the people that leave bluegrass. I had a strong feeling that I’d be coming back as well.” My Bluegrass Heart comes as the third chapter of a trilogy that started with 1988’s Drive and resumed with 1999’s The Bluegrass Sessions. Béla served as producer of the 19-track collection.

Fleck dedicates My Bluegrass Heart to Chick Corea and Tony Rice, both of whom recently died. Rice appeared on Drive and The Bluegrass Sessions while the title of the forthcoming album is based on Corea’s My Spanish Heart. Béla’s core band for the 2-LP set includes mandolinist Sam Bush, fiddler Stuart Duncan, bassist Mark Schatz and dobroist Jerry Douglas. Each previously contributed to Drive and The Bluegrass Sessions.

Thile, Strings, Tuttle, David Grisman, Sutton, Meyer, Hull, Tony Trischka and Billy Contreras are also featured on My Bluegrass Heart. “Béla took such a collaborative spirit with this,” noted Sierra Hull. “He has an ability to bring out the best in people, to allow them to bring what they’re good at and let them shine.”

“In my opinion, Béla Fleck is one of the most important musicians of all time,” added Billy Strings. “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.”

“‘Charm School’ started out with a banjo tune in C, using loads of harmonics,” explained Fleck. “‘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.”

Watch the “Charm School” animated video below:

My Bluegrass Heart Tracklist

Disc One

  1. Vertigo featuring Sam Bush, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Bryan Sutton
  2. The Old North Woods
  3. Slippery Eel featuring Billy Strings and Chris Thile
  4. Hug Point featuring Sierra Hull and Molly Tuttle
  5. Boulderdash featuring Tony Trischka and Noam Pikelny
  6. Our Little Secret
  7. Round Rock featuring Michael Cleveland and Jerry Douglas
  8. Baptist Pumpkin Farm
  9. Charm School featuring Billy Strings and Chris Thile

Disc Two

  1. Strider featuring Sierra Hull and Molly Tuttle
  2. This Old Road featuring David Grisman and Billy Strings
  3. Us Chickens
  4. Sour Grapes
  5. Hunky Dory
  6. Tentacle Dragon (Revenge of the) featuring Billy Strings
  7. Bum’s Rush featuring Sam Bush, Billy Contreras, Jerry Douglas, Edgar Meyer, and Bryan Sutton
  8. Hunter’s Moon
  9. Wheels Up featuring Sierra Hull and Molly Tuttle
  10. Psalm 136 featuring Chris Thile
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