CMA Awards 2018

Married Couple Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn Face Off In 'Don't Let It Bring You Down' Video

Jim McGuire
Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn

Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn have no problem staring intently into each other's eyes; They are married, after all. But the duo decided a face-off was the best course to take for "Don't Let It Bring You Down," the first video from their new album Echo In The Valley, which is premiering exclusively below.

The clip, directed by Alex Chaloff and filmed in a sweaty Los Angeles warehouse, features the two -- Fleck playing a cello banjo, Washburn on a fretless banjo -- staring each other down as the camera swirls 360 degrees around their performance. "This song in particular is a little complicated. I guess you could say it's hard to tap your foot throughout the whole thing," Washburn tells Billboard. "One of the things we wanted to do was show people, on our instruments, what's happening and use the (video) to help people understand the song musically."  

Fleck adds that the couple welcomed Chaloff's direction to face off as they performed. "A lot of times doing videos to the camera can be pretty static or canned looking," he notes. "But this idea that we're looking at each other and engaging with each other, I thought that really helped the feeling of video a lot. He had a track built around us and the camera guys spinning around and around at different speeds to create excitement. I think it was a neat idea."

Washburn, however, could have done without the hot, sweaty part of the shoot. "It was during the summer and there was no air conditioning in the warehouse, so it was pretty rough," she recalls. "My whole dress was just soaking wet by the end of it." Fleck remembers that every take or two she was like, 'Hey guys, we've got to stop and get out the mop' and someone would come out to dab sweat off her brow. There were a lot of starts and stops for that, but we buckled down and did it. And you really don't see it in the video."  

Echo In The Valley debuted at No. 1 on the Bluegrass Albums chart and No. 9 on the Americana Albums chart after its Oct. 20 release. It's the duo's second album together, following 2014's self-titled set, but this time they took a different path, focusing on original songs and a more austere, two-person approach to the recording. Both were marked by a creative give-and-take and plenty of negotiation as the two -- who are used to steering their own musical ships -- learned how to work in tandem.

"The best stuff doesn't always come out of agreement," Fleck notes. "Because we didn't always agree on our ideas we had to debate for them and fight for them and find a way to embrace each other's ideas. It wasn't comfortable all the time. It was the hardest time we've had working together, in fact. But as we completed each song and started to rack 'em up and said, 'Hey, we both like what's going on here,' it felt worth it."

Washburn notes that, "Bela and I could not have created a record like this had it not been for (the disagreements). It's hard to add those challenging collaborations to just the challenge of life. It's easy to get your feelings hurt if you bring something to the table the other person doesn't like -- especially if you were invested in it and thought they'd like it. But in the end it just made it stronger. I would say we're both incredibly proud of the album."

Echo in the Valley tour dates 
Nov 16  Cambridge, MA  Sanders Theatre
Nov 17  Portland, ME  State Theatre
Nov 18  Keene, NH  Colonial Theatre
Nov 19  Plymouth, NH  The Flying Monkey Performance Center
Nov 24  Eugene, OR  John G. Shedd Institute for the Arts
Nov 25  Seattle, WA  The Moore Theatre
Nov 26  Bellingham, WA  Mount Baker Theatre
Nov 27  Portland, OR  Newmark Theatre
Nov 29  Arcata, CA  Van Duzer Theater
Dec 9  New York, NY  A Prairie Home Companion
Dec 13  Nashville, TN  Station Inn, benefit for IBMA Trust Fund
Dec 15  Leiper’s Fork, TN  Puckett’s Grocery, benefit for Jailhouse Industries
Dec 17  Nashville, TN  Parnassus Books, benefit for The Porch Writers’ Collective
Dec 18  Lexington, KY  Woodsongs
Jan 12-13  Riviera Maya, Mexico  Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds:  Riviera Maya
March 22-25  Knoxville, TN  Big Ears Festival