Abigail Washburn & the Sparrow Quartet
ACL Live Shots
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Oct. 3, 2008
Abigail Washburn & the Sparrow QuartetSunday, Sept. 28, Zilker Park
Sunday afternoon got off to a glorious start. Abigail Washburn & the Sparrow Quartet – Béla Fleck, banjo; Casey Driessen, fiddle; and Ben Sollee, cello – use ancient instruments, but their fusion of traditional folk, bluegrass, classical, and music from China moves forward at every turn. Washburn's vocals were clear and distinctive whether torching it up on "Sugar & Pie" or making it jazzy on Blind Willie Johnson's "Nobody's Fault But Mine." The majority of the crowd was there to see Fleck's mastery, and he didn't disappoint in a solo turn. Driessen and Sollee were equally impressive. The interplay between the four, including Washburn's banjo, was outstanding, especially on a reworking of the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby." Washburn sang a couple of songs in Chinese, which didn't seem out of place, giving the listener a sense that the Sparrow Quartet could play just about anything it set its collective mind to with ease.