Abigail Washburn announces new album, extensive tour

Abigail Washburn
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Folk songstress and banjo master Abigail Washburn will embark on a 100+ date North American tour this week, in support of her new album to be released next month.

Washburn’s sophomore record, Abigail Washburn & The Sparrow Quartet, will be released May 20 on Nettwerk Records. The album was composed and arranged by the Sparrow Quartet, comprised of Washburn, Bela Fleck (banjo), Ben Sollee (cello) and Casey Driessen. Fleck also produced the record, which Washburn described as an effort to “intentionally create art that is more than what I ever thought I was capable of.”

Washburn visited China for the first time as a college student in 1996, and returned a year later for a six-month Chinese language course. She fell in love with her surroundings, and after taking two more summer language courses, she accepted an internship at a Beijing PR firm in 2000. Washburn said that her immersion in the Chinese language and culture eventually inspired her to return to her American roots and study the banjo. “I had no intention of becoming a performer and yet under miraculous circumstances I was brought into the music industry fold,” she said in a statement. “If divine powers hadn’t intervened I’d still be living in China working in some area of Sino-American comparative law.”

Two years later, Washburn was playing banjo in the old-time string quartet Uncle Earl, and garnering a great deal of music industry attention with Mandarin translations of traditional bluegrass songs. The Sparrow Quartet recorded its first album, Song of the Traveling Daughter, in 2005, and toured China extensively over the next two years. In 2007, the quartet became the first government sponsored U.S. musicians to tour Tibet on a government-sponsored cultural mission.

Washburn, Fleck, Sollee and Driessen will return to China in August to perform at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. They will also be performing at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Bonnaroo during a whirlwind tour of more than 100 dates throughout the U.S. and Canada.

The tour kicks off this week in Boulder, Colorado. Tour dates through October are listed below, and Washburn’s website promises more to be announced soon.

Dates:

April
24 - Boulder, Colo. @ Boulder Theater
27 - Wilkesboro, N.C. @ MerleFest
28 - Lexington, Ky. @ Woodsongs

May
1 - Huntsville, Ala. @ Merrimack Hall
4 - New Orleans, La. @ Jazz Fest
20 - Nashville, Tenn. @ Station Inn
25 - Cumberland, Md. @ Del Fest
27 - Sellersville, Pa. @ Sellersville Theater
29 - New York, N.Y. @ Castle Clinton
30 - Albany, N.Y. @ Empire Center at The Egg
31 - Northampton, Mass. @ Iron Horse

June
7 - Chicago, Ill. @ Old Town School of Folk
14 - Manchester, Tenn. @ Bonnaroo 
25 - Vienna, Va. @ Wolf Trap
27 - Charlottesville, Va. @ Paramount Theater

July
3 - Quincy, Calif. @ High Sierra
10 - Bayfield, Wisc. @ Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua
11 - Winnipeg, Manitoba @ Winnipeg Folk Festival
13 - Vancouver, B.C. @ Vancouver Island Musicfest
14 - Seattle, Wash. @ Benaroya Hall
17 - Lowell, Mass. @ Boarding House Park
18 - Ancramdale, N.Y. @ Grey Fox
26 - Lyons, Colo. @ Rocky Grass
27 Calgary, Alberta @ Calgary Folk Festival

August
8 - Alta, Wyo. @ Grand Targhee
9 - Edmonton, Alberta @ Edmonton Folk Festival
10 - Regina, Saskatchewan @ Regina Folk Festival

September
11 - Chapel Hill, N.C. @ Memorial Hall

October
19 - Black Mountain, N.C. @ Lake Eden Arts Festival

Related links:
AbigailWashburn.com
Abigail Washburn on MySpace
Feature: Abigail Washburn: How the East was Won

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