It’s rare to have an artist on your iPod that you listen to while running and while relaxing. But bluegrass musician Abigail Washburn is just that. Her clawhammer banjo-infused tunes and soulful voice are at once soothing and uplifting. Peaceful and energizing.

Abigail Washburn (photo credit: Shervin Lainez)

Abigail Washburn returns to the Telluride stage, this Thursday, October 25th. She’ll perform an intimate, seated show with multi-instrumentalist Kai Welch at the Sheridan Opera House.

Washburn and Welch last performed in Telluride two years ago at Bluegrass. They rocked the main stage with their band Sparrow Quartet, but it was their Elks Park performance that blew everyone away. Indeed, small venues are their strength; it’s during those that you can really hear the depth of their harmonies and the intricacies of their playing.

In Kai Welch, Washburn found a co-writer and singing partner whose sensibilities, though they compliment hers, aren’t the slightest bit old-timey—which is precisely why she wanted to work with him; Smart AM pop is his native territory. “There were song ideas that I took to him that I thought I would have a handle on myself,” she says. “But I just thought I’d try it out with him and see if he thought of anything right away, and in so many instances he really would have an initial instinct that was extremely beautiful and applicable to the songs. He would think of chord structures that were different than things I would usually think of.”

I had the privilege of singing in an a cappella group with Abby back in the day at Colorado College. Since college, Washburn has traveled extensively, becoming fluent in Chinese along the way. In her latest album, City of Refuge, you can hear the influence of world travel in her music. The title track of the album, “City of Refuge”, opens with the sounds of a market. It’s easy to get carried away while listening to the sounds of children playing and venders selling their goods. Easy to imagine yourself in a dusty market somewhere in Asia, watching the sun come up over a series of temples. Such is the power of Washburn’s music. Her rich folk voice combined with far-flung melodies can transport you back to your best memories and carry you forward to new ones.

Tickets for Thursday’s 8PM show available for $20 at the Sheridan Opera House.

Hear more of Abby’s story in this video:

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