INTERVIEW: Positivity reigns supreme for The Infamous Stringdusters

The Infamous Stringdusters

The Infamous Stringdusters play the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival on Oct. 6. Photo courtesy of the artist.

In a world of “darkness, disagreement and discontent,” people may constantly find themselves in search of “love, truth and positivity.” And that’s exactly what resonator guitarist Andy Hall says they’ll find, once they tune in to bluegrass band The Infamous Stringdusters.

The Infamous Stringdusters at
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 

12:15 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 6
Golden Gate Park
Tickets: Free. More info.

Hall, along with guitarist Andy Falco, banjo player Chris Pandolfi, fiddler Jeremy Garret and bassist Travis Book bring together a variety of influences that brings the Grammy-Award-winning quintet to stand out from its peers.

While the Infamous Stringdusters keep in line with traditional bluegrass structure, the band throws in undertones of what Hall describes as high-energy psychedelic rock.

“When we started the band, it was heavily influenced by the bluegrass [artists], because that’s sort of what we were in the middle of at that point in our musical progression,” Hall said. “But as the band has grown, we’ve allowed for the rock influences we had earlier on to come through.”

The quintet wasn’t always a united party. Before they met in the heart of the Nashville music scene, the five musicians played in separate bands.

After meeting at parties they realized their common musical interests.

“Bluegrass has sort of a traditional world, and then there’s a much more progressive world where you take the bluegrass and do your own thing with it–and that’s what we were all interested in,” Hall said. “So we [found we] had this unique sound that was pretty evident from one of the very first times we got together.”

The band’s name came as a recommendation from bluegrass legend Ben Eldridge, of Seldom Scene, who was also the father of the Infamous Stringdusters’ original guitarist.

“The Stringdusters were a band from back in the ’50s and were super jazzy and progressive,” Hall said. But to the Nashville players luck, the band hadn’t been around in decades. According to Eldridge, as re-told by Hall, the name suited the quintet. Eldridge felt their music could be an heirloom and they could “carry on the tradition of innovation.”

In 2007 the Infamous Strongdusters released their first album, Fork in the Road. Since then they’ve released eight others, the most recent being 2019’s Rise Sun. The album begins with the title track, and Hall said the band decided to lead off with it because its joyous gospel celebration brings a positive vibe. More than anything, that’s what Hall and the other Stringdusters want fans to remember them for—brightening their days.

“Not only does it have this massive positivity, but just musically, it’s really fun,” he said. “When we play that song live, it’s instant energy between the band and the crowd. Our shows are meant for people to dance, participate and have a connection. When we can see that we’re having an effect on people, it changes the way we play. It actually gives us more freedom.”

The band is set to play this weekend’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival for the third time.

“There’s something really cool about performing in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park,” Hall said. “All the heroes of bluegrass are usually there. You get to see friends and musicians that you see across the festival circuit.”

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