Live Art – Béla Fleck & the Flecktones

includes many guests

Label: Warner Brothers

The double live album

The band was realizing the strength of our live show at this point. We had had so many amazing guests sit in,and people always told us that they felt the live show was preferable to the records. As hard as we worked on making records we could be proud of, something happened on stage that we could not get to happen in the studio environment. So we decided to go thru our archives and put together an impossible and cosmic live show that was careened from year to year with no regard for linear timelines. We pulled tracks from the Howard days, the trio days, from a show where we did Acoustic Planet music at the Ryman Theatre with Chick Corea, John Cowan singing with us at Telluride, and Bruce Hornsby sitting in in Louisville. We also scheduled and recorded a 5 day tour with Sam and Paul together. I had learned a lot about digital editing in the making of Tales from the Acoustic Planet, and I knew that the cost of completing a live album in the studio from 100 plus shows was cost prohibitive. We could’t afford to do it. That’s when Warner Brothers bought us a Pro Tools rig. The home studio revolution hadn’t happened yet, but it sure was about to. When I realized what kind of control I could have by making records at home, I never looked back. Noone was going to tell me that we were out of time, or that the budget didn’t allow for us to make our record properly ever again. I went through all these shows at home, and picked out the performances, and we edited and mixed them there. One interesting story – I had fallen in love with a track we did in Louisville with Bruce Hornsby sitting in with the band. But we couldn’t find the multi tracks that were recorded at the performance – just a rough board mix. Richard Battaglia, my sound man/road manager since 1982 felt sure that they had been given to him, but he could not for the life of him figure out where they were. He even went to a psychic who told him that they were safe, and in a dark place. They turned out to be under his desk in a lock box he had forgotten about. We got them just in time to mix and still make it onto the record. The song was More Love. Another interesting item – Warners did not want to count this recording as part of our deal, citing the fact that live albums don’t typically sell. We fought that, saying that it should count, because live was what people always said they wanted to hear from us, and what if it was a big success? Not counting it would mean they got an additional album beyond the ones we’d been contracted for, and now we were worth a lot more than we were when the deal was struck. So it was in our interest to get thru the deal and either renegotiate or move to another label. The album went on to be one of our biggest sellers, with well over 200,000 sold.