Banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck has been breaking down barriers in music and shattering musical stereotypes his entire career, so it’s not surprising that he journeyed to Africa–Uganda, Tanzania, The Gambia, and Mali–to connect with that continent’s most talented musicians and trace the roots of his instrument. For our sake, it’s nice that he also took a film crew and recording crew with him.

Several years in the making, Throw Down Your Heart, debuted tonight at SXSW. Béla was there to share in the screening and take questions after the film. When is the album coming out was one good question. He said that a handful of labels are interested in it, but he hasn’t landed on one yet.

This film is also in need of a distribution partner. If such things are determined on merit, it will be picked up. It’s a story that the crowd tonight cherished. Seeing Béla communicate across cultural and linguistic barriers with his banjo was special. And to see how warm his reception was in these African communities was also touching.

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Film