Words, pictures, videos by Bradley Darby
Two months from now I will be voyaging to the magical land of Colorado to see three amazingly talented bluegrass/jamgrass bands at the Red Rocks Amphitheater, apparently one of the most beautiful venues in the world. Last night I had the opportunity to see one of those bands in the intimate setting that is The Duck Room, located in the basement of Blueberry Hill. That band was none other than the Infamous Stringdusters (www.thestringdusters.com)
While you may not know the name, you probably should. The Infamous Stringdusters are made up of six of the more talented young bluegrass pickers out there. Travis Book is the standup bassist and does much of the crowd interaction and shares vocal duty with Jeremy Garrett who plays the fiddle and Andy Hall on the dobro. Chris Pandolfi picks the banjo and Jesse Cobb is a monster on the mandolin, while newest member Andy Falco strums the guitar. They have played together since former guitarist Chris Eldridge left the group to join the Punch Brothers following the release of their debut acclaimed album Fork in the Road, which won International Bluegrass Music Association Awards for Album, Song and Emerging Artist of the Year. Its no question that all six of the Stringdusters are highly talented bluegrass pickers, and that their inspiration comes from all forms of genres.
They warmed up with two songs,including “Well Well” then bassist Travis Wood addressed the crowd and asked us if anyone was a John Hartford fan. Well, since Hartford spent his childhood in St. Louis it was no shock that the response was much applause. The Stringdusters then played a rendition of Hartfords “Keep On Truckin”, the first of two John Hartford songs that would be tackled this night. For the next almost two hours, the Stringdusters played through a set list of 20 songs with few breaks. At one point, banjo picker Chris Pandolfi told us he was going to voyage into the crowd to get set up for what they called “Video Autographs.” Sure enough a few songs later, as the other five huddled together on stage fueling off of each other during a tasty little jam, Pandolfi disappeared and came back moments later with someones camcorder mounted on the end of his banjo. During the next song, Pandolfi would aim the camera right in the action to capture solos, finger picking, or just up close and personal shots of the other Stringdusters and the crowd as they played. They would trade off solos in almost every song, giving each member anywhere from a minute to a few minutes to showcase their skills.
The set ended with “Jack-A-Roe” into “Rain”, followed by the crowd favorite “Fork in the Road.” One of the biggest highlights of the evening was when they came back out for the encore and Wood addressed the crowd by telling them “We are heading up to Chicago tomorrow….” to which the crowd game a loud BOO! He then enraged the anti-Chicago crowd once or twice more before talking about the summer ahead including Red Rocks and some other festivals. Then it was into the second Hartford tune of the evening, “Steam Powered Aeroplane” followed by “Hitchhiker” to end the night. As the crowd began to again chant “one more song, one more song” the door began to open and it appeared as though we may be in store for the rare double encore, but then the house lights came on and the show was over.
All in all, I can honestly say this may be one of the better bluegrass shows I have attended. I have been seeing quite a lot over the past few years, but this show stands out as one that I will not soon forget and rivals last years two night Yonder run at The Pageant for the top spot on my bluegrass list. I look forward to my next date with the Infamous Stringdusters in Morrison, Colorado on August 21 when they support the Yonder Mountain String Band and Railroad Earth.
SETLIST: (CLICK LINK BELOW FOR VIDEO)
Keep On Truckin’ (John Hartford)
#9 -> Taking A Chance On The Truth
Get It While You Can
How Far I’d Fall For You
It Be Alright
Hit Parade of Love
All The Same
Long Lonesome day
End of the Line
Jack a Roe => Rain
Fork in the Road
E: Steam Powered Aeroplane (John Hartford)