NPR Article | Tiny Desk Concert

Posted on 3rd Jan 2011



Abigail Washburn's music career, now 10 years old, had an unlikely start. Washburn had plans to study law at Beijing University in China. She'd also recently bought a banjo — she wanted to take something to China that was American — and she'd fallen in love with the music of the legendary Doc Watson, in particular his banjo playing in the classic folk tune "Shady Grove."  

So Washburn decided to embark on a road trip to study the banjo, and to learn tunes. She found her way to the Augusta Heritage Center in West Virginia, then to North Carolina and then Kentucky to the International Bluegrass Association. It was there that she sat down with a few women to play music, and right then and there was offered a record deal.

So her plans changed and she canceled her journey to China. Still, even though Washburn began a music career instead, the country remains in her heart. Her career has since taken her to China, and she now mixes American bluegrass and folk with Chinese folk music.

You'll hear a bit of both in this delightful Tiny Desk Concert. Here, Washburn is accompanied by bandmates Rob Hecht on fiddle, Jared Engel on bass, Jamie Dick on drums and Kai Welch on keyboards and trumpet. The short, lovely set includes songs from Washburn's new record, City of Refuge.


View the full article on, and check out NPR's follow up after the release of Abigail's album:


First Listen: Abigail Washburn, 'City Of Refuge'.