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Jam Central Station: The Infamous Stringdusters

August 4, 2018 | Posted by Jeff Modzelewski

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Session musicians and touring musicians are often criminally overlooked. While everyone loves the artist that labors over the songwriting, the production, and being the frontman, often very little attention is paid to the musicians that help that artist bring their music to life. But so many solo artists are surrounded by other great musicians. If you go see Bob Dylan, he has a tremendous backing band. The same with artists like Roger Waters, Tori Amos, John Mayer, and nearly any other “solo” artist that you can think of. While fans often don’t appreciate these “session” musicians, the artists themselves absolutely understand their talent and their role. And out of this role occasionally comes a great artist or band that fans can come to appreciate. One of those bands that came primarily from session and touring musicians is The Infamous Stringdusters.

Most of the members of The Infamous Stringdusters had experience touring or recording with some of the biggest names in country or bluegrass music. Andy Hall, Jeremy Garrett, and Jesse Cobb all performed as a part of Ronnie Bowman’s band. Travis Book was a part of the Colorado bluegrass scene well before joining the Stringdusters. Andy Falco was a well-known Nashville guitarist before joining up with the group and had even worked with Levon Helm, and dobro player Andy Hall worked with country and bluegrass icons such as Earl Scruggs, Dolly Parton, and Charlie Daniels. Banjoist Chris Pandolfi was also the first musician accepted into the Berklee College of Music primarily as a banjo player. With this type of pedigree and experience, it should be no surprise that when this group came together they quickly found success.

The band came together when friends Pandolf, Hall, and Chris Eldridge moved to Nashville, where they met up with Cobb and Garrett. Seeing a mutual admiration as well as a desire to stay true to the roots of bluegrass while expanding musical horizons, the band quickly formed and brought in Travis Brook to play bass. After about a year of small-scale touring, the group went into the studio to record their debut album. They recorded Fork In The Road in just about 6 months and released the album on the well-known bluegrass label Sugar Hill records. The band had an immediate impact on the bluegrass community, winning three awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association for the album.

This solid start propelled the band forward in bluegrass circles, but it was their live performances that helped expand their fan base. The band didn’t come from a traditional bluegrass background, so they had no trouble adding different elements to their live performances. They quickly began to move into more improvisational live shows, but they did it with enough respect to the traditional music to avoid alienating more traditional fans. This began a balancing act that the band would continue between the modern and traditional bluegrass scenes. It allowed them to continue to gain respect from both areas. With the release of their self-titled 2008 album, the band continued to garner attention, awards, and critical acclaim. With each member contributing to the band’s songwriting, they were able to avoid becoming stale or one-dimensional as a band.

What followed for the band was a whirlwind of shows supporting more well-known bluegrass and newgrass acts, festival appearances, awards, and increased visibility. They became known not only for their impressive songwriting but for live shows that would often include unexpected cover songs and extended improvisations. Despite their forays into more modern music, bluegrass aficionados continued to support the band both live and through album sales. 2010’s Things That Fly hit #2 on the Bluegrass charts, and the album was supported by a wide variety of fans.

By 2011, the band was readying the release of their first live album. Unfortunately, at that time mandolin player Jesse Cobb decided to leave the band for personal reasons, and the band continued on without a mandolin. That didn’t stop their success, however, and 2012’s Silver Sky was another success for the band. They truly branched out on that album, incorporating horns for many of the songs and utilizing hip-hop producer Billy Hume on the album. The success of this album has continued to allow the band to move from supporting bands like Yonder Mountain String Band and Railroad Earth to headlining their own shows and theaters around the country. They have also started hosting their own festival, The Festy Experience, which includes music of all types, much of it far removed from traditional bluegrass.

In 2016 the band released Ladies and Gentlemen. This new collection included a different female guest vocalist on every track. It was surprising how well the album fit together, highlighting each unique vocalist while still showcasing the immense talent of the Stringdusters. They’ve went on tour with Nicki Bluhm handling the female vocal duties, with the combo collaborating at shows and festivals for the better part of a year and released a live album from that tour. 2017 saw the band release Laws of Gravity which won the band the Grammy for best Bluegrass album in 2018. They also released a live companion to the album, with live versions of all of the tracks.

Few bands have garnered traditional bluegrass success and coupled it so effectively with being a part of the newgrass movement. The talent and experience that The Infamous Stringdusters have outside of their work with the band have allowed them to walk that line extremely well. They have continued to be able to get the respect of legitimate bluegrass legends while bringing their music to a variety of fans. In just a few years the band has become a modern bluegrass mainstay. There’s no doubt that they will continue to bring their bluegrass to fans of all types.

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Bender Jamboree announces lineup
Bender Jamboree will take place at the Plaza Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas from April 11-14 next year. The festival will include a stacked lineup with Greensky Bluegrass, Railroad Earth, The Infamous Stringdusters, Leftover Salmon, Keller Williams, Billy Strings, and many others. Packages go on sale next week!

The Festy Experience add artists
The Festy Experience will take place in Arrington, VA from October 5-7. The festival added their final set of artists this week, including Billy Strings, Alison Brown, The Connells, and The Lil’ Smokies. They join a lineup that features Greensky Bluegrass, Railroad Earth, Sam Bush Band, Gillian Welch, Fruition, and many others.

Bob Weir announces Wolf Bros tour
Bob Weir announced a new project and tour. Wolf Bros. will feature Weir, Jay Lane, and Don Was. The trio kick off their tour on October 16 in Reno.

October 16 Reno, NV—Grand Sierra Resort and Casino
October 18 Los Angeles, CA—The Theatre at Ace Hotel
October 20 Santa Barbara, CA—Arlington Theatre
October 22 Portland, OR—Keller Auditorium
October 23 Seattle, WA—Moore Theatre
October 24 Missoula, MT—Wilma Theatre
October 26 Salt Lake City, UT—Eccles Theater
October 27 Albuquerque, NM—Kiva Auditorium
October 29 Denver, CO—Paramount Theatre
October 31 Chicago, IL—Chicago Theatre
November 5 Nashville, TN—Ryman Auditorium
November 6 Louisville, KY—Palace Theatre
November 8 Syracuse, NY—Landmark Theatre
November 9 Port Chester, NY—The Capitol Theatre
November 10 Port Chester, NY—The Capitol Theatre
November 12 Washington, DC—Warner Theatre
November 13 Philadelphia, PA—The Fillmore
November 16 Boston, MA—Boch Center Wang Theatre
November 18 New York, NY—Beacon Theatre

Papadosio announce tour
Papadosio will be on the road supporting their upcoming Content Coma album set to be released on 9/7. The band will be doing their own shows as well as shows with STS9 Russ Liquid Test.

Sept 14 Variety Playhouse | Atlanta, GA%
Sept 15 Variety Playhouse | Atlanta, GA***
Sept 20 Resonance Music and Arts Festival | Thornville, OH
Sept 28 Pier 17 | New York, NY#
Oct 5 The Big Weekend | Chicago, IL##
Oct 6 Sacred Vibrations Music and Arts Festival | Shepherd, MI
Oct 27 Fillmore Auditorium | Denver, CO**
Oct 9 Meow Wolf | Santa Fe, NM*
Oct 10 Orpheum Theater | Flagstaff, AZ*
Oct 11 The Music Box | San Diego, CA*
Oct 12 Lodge Room | Los Angeles, CA*
Oct 13 Great American Music Hall | San Francisco, CA*
Oct 14 Mystic Theatre | Petaluma, CA*
Oct 17 Arcata Theatre Lounge | Arcata, CA^
Oct 18 HIFI Music Hall | Eugene, OR^
Oct 19 Neumos | Seattle, WA^
Oct 20 Star Theater | Portland, OR^
Oct 21 Wild Buffalo | Bellingham, WA^
Oct 27 Fillmore Auditorium | Denver, CO%%
Oct 31 George’s Majestic Lounge | Fayetteville,AR**
Nov 1 Cain’s Ballroom | Tulsa, OK**
Nov 2 The Bourbon | Lincoln, NE**
Nov 3 Majestic Madison | Madison, WI**
Nov 4 The Loft | Lansing, MI**
Nov 7 Mainstage Morgantown | Morgantown, WV^^
Nov 8 Lincoln Theatre | Raleigh, NC^^
Nov 9 The Underground at the Fillmore | Charlotte, NC^^
Nov 10 9:30 Club | Washington, DC^^

%w/ Daily Bread ***w/ Higher Learning #w/ STS9 ##w/ Emancipator Ensemble *w/ Frameworks Live Band
^w/ Lapa
%%w/ Russ Liquid Test **w/ Evanoff
^^w/ Litz

Wood Brothers add tour dates
The Wood Brothers added dates that will take them into early 2019. The band is currently on the road and will continue to tour at least through January.

November 9 Ithaca, NY—State Theatre^
November 28 Houston, TX—The Heights Theater
November 29 Dallas, TX—The Kessler Theater
November 30 New Braunfels, TX—Gruene Hall
December 1 Austin, TX—Paramount Theatre
December 2 Oklahoma City, OK—Tower Theatre
December 4 Omaha, NE—Slowdown
December 8 Salt Lake City, UT—The Commonwealth
December 9 Aspen, CO—Belly Up
January 15 Winston-Salem, NC—The Ramkat*
January 16 Millvale, PA—Mr. Smalls Theatre*
January 17 Washington, DC—9:30 Club*
January 18 Washington, DC—9:30 Club*
January 19 Philadelphia, PA—Union Transfer*
January 21 York, PA—Strand Capitol Theatre*
January 22 Buffalo, NY—Town Ballroom*
January 24 Port Chester, NY—The Capitol Theatre*
January 25 Portland, ME—State Theatre*
January 26 Boston, MA—House of Blues*

^w/ Nicole Atkins *w/ Priscilla Renea

jcsevents

Floydfest
July 25-29
Floyd, VA
Foster the People, The Infamous Stringdusters, Hiss Golden Messenger

Element Music Festival
July 26-29
Snug Lake Ampitheatre
British Columbia
Lotus, Spafford, Particle

Werk Out Festival
August 2-4
Legend Valley
Thornville, OH
The Werks, Umphrey’s McGee, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Lettuce, Papadosio, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Twiddle, Turkuz

Summer Meltdown Festival
August 2-5
Darrington, WA
Bassnectar, Big Gigantic, Greensky Bluegrass, Lettuce, Beats Antique, Papadosio, Twiddle, Pimps of Joytime

Hoxeyville
August 17-19
Wellston, VA
Dawes, Leftover Salmon, The Infamous Stringdusters, Billy Strings, Larry Keel, Steppin’ In It, Jon Stickney Trio, The Crane Wives

Lockn
August 23-26
Arrington, VA
Dead & Company, Widespread Panic, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Umphrey’s McGee, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Sheryl Crow, Lettuce, George Clinton & P-Funk, Blues Traveler, Matisyahu, Spafford, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

Waterloo Festival
September 7-9
Carson Creek Ranch
Austin, TX
The String Cheese Incident (3 nights), Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Otiel & Friends, Railroad Earth, Leftover Salmon, The Motet, Boombox, TAUK, Marco Benevento

FreshGrass Festival
September 14-16
North Adams, MA
Trampled By Turtles, Yonder Mountain String Band, Indigo Girls, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Steep Canyon Rangers

The Festy Experience
October 5-7
Arrington, VA
Greensky Bluegrass, Gillian Welch, Railroad Earth, Sam Bush Band, Billy Strings, Della Mae, Fruition, Carbon Leaf, Bonnie Paine, The Lil’ Smokies

Hillberry Music Festival
October 11-14
Railroad Earth, Trampled By Turtles, Sam Bush, Lettuce, The Wood Brothers, The Infamous Stringdusters, Billy Strings, Split Lip Rayfield

Suwannee Hulaween
October 25-28
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oak, FL
The String Cheese Incident, Jamiroquai, Odesza, The Revivalists, STS9, Lettuce, Trampled by Turtles, Medeski, Martin, & Wood, Galactic, Turkuaz, The Wood Brothers, Yonder Mountain String Band, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead

Hangtown Music Festival
October 25-28
Placerville, CA
Railroad Earth (3 Nights), The Claypool Lennon Delirium, Trampled By Turtles, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe presents Eat a Bunch of Peaches, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, The Infamous Stringdusters, Billy Strings, Pimps of Joytime

Strings & Sol
December 7-11
Puerto Morelos, MX
Yonder Mountain String Band, Greensky Bluegrass, Railroad Earth, The Infamous Stringdusters, Leftover Salmon

Holidaze
December 12-16
Puerto Morelos, MX
The Disco Biscuits, STS9, Umphrey’s McGee, Lotus, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Ghost Light

Winter Wondergrass Vermont
December 14-16
Stratton, VT

Tropical Throe.down
January 10-14
Runaway Bay, Jamaica
moe., The New Mastersounds, Big Something

Jam in the Sand
January 15-19
Runaway Bay, Jamaica
Dark Star Orchestra, The Wailers, Green Leaf Rustlers

International Incident
January 25-28
Runaway Bay, Jamaica
The String Cheese Incident, Keller Williams

Panic en la Playa Ocho
January 25-29
Riviera Maya, Mexico

Winter Wondergrass Colorado
February 22-24
Steamboat Springs, CO

Winter Wondergrass California
March 29-31
Squaw Valley, CA

Bender Jamboree
April 11-14
Plaza Hotel & Casino
Las Vegas, NV
Greensky Bluegrass, Railroad Earth, The Infamous Stringdusters, Leftover Salmon, Keller Williams, Billy Strings

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Thanks again for stopping by. I’ll be back next week with more jam. Until then, check me out on Facebook and Twitter for up to the minute concert announcements. Until next week, Jam On!

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