Infamous Stringdusters bringing bluegrass to Dewey Beach
When The Infamous Stringdusters take the stage at the Bottle & Cork in Dewey Beach on Sunday, Aug. 20, they will bring bluegrass that soars beyond the typical boundaries of the genre.
While the five-man band has its roots in the bluegrass that emerged in the 1960s folk-music movement, guitarist Andy Falco said told the Coastal Point this week that, as a band, the Stringdusters strive to explore the depth and breadth of bluegrass.
The Infamous Stringdusters is, in addition to Falco, Andy Hall on dobro, Chris Pandolfi on banjo, Jeremy Garrett on fiddle and Travis Book on upright bass. The band is currently touring in support of its latest recording, “Laws of Gravity,” which was released in January.
As their seventh studio set, “Laws of Gravity” represents the Stringdusters’ efforts to balance their appeal to fans of traditional bluegrass with a push to attract new listeners.
“A lot of people are trying to figure out what bluegrass is,” Falco said, adding that some of today’s bands that are difficult to pigeonhole and some, such as Mumford & Sons, are considered by some to represent new bluegrass.
Falco said bluegrass began to evolve in a way that was similar to the shifts in other genres, such as jazz or blues, as far back as the 1960s. The Infamous Stringdusters came together in 2007. In 2011, their song “Magic No. 9,” from their “Things” recording, was nominated for a Grammy for Best Country Instrumental — further proof of the fluidity of genres in today’s music business.
While Falco said his Long Island roots might not seem to lend themselves to bluegrass, but he noted that bluegrass music today transcends geography.
“Maybe 40 years ago, music was more regional, but now musicians from Long Island are accepted as bluegrass musicians,” he said. He added also that public perception of bluegrass music has come a long way. “People used to see a banjo and think ‘Deliverance,’” he said.
Like many successful musicians, Falco credited his parents with exposing him and his siblings to music throughout their childhood.
“I grew up in a household where music was part of the daily routine,” he said. “My parents weren’t musicians, but they had a very eclectic record collection,” he said.
Falco’s sister played piano and flute when they were growing up, but it was with his two brothers that his musical career took flight. The three brothers played in rock bands in Long Island as youths, he said.
His initiation into bluegrass a few years away, Falco said, “I got really interested in the Grateful Dead,” and then the Allman Brothers Band. He played electric guitar at first, and played what he calls “rootsy Americana,” until “I found my way to Nashville,” Falco said. There, “I fell in love with bluegrass,” he said.
As a native of Long Island, Falco said he is looking forward to checking out Dewey Beach this weekend.
“I’d imagine the culture is probably not too different” from his New York coastal home, he said. Although the Infamous Stringbusters’ current tour has taken them all over the United States, he said, “I always feel at home” on the East Coast.
Since the band is “on tour all the time” Falco said, its relationship with fans is what keeps the music fresh and the band motivated to keep growing.
“Our fan base is generally really people who are looking to go to a show or put a record on and just feel free, feel like themselves. Our fans are people that are interested in taking a journey with us, in riding a wave with us,” he said. “Our set lists are never the same.”
Falco said the Stringdusters are “pretty much touring all the time,” as evidenced by a packed summer schedule that flows right into the next seasons without a break. Not surprisingly, “Laws of Gravity,” produced under the Compass Records label, was completed while the band was on tour.
“Laws of Gravity” debuted at No. 26 on the Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart, selling 1,200 copies in its first week.
Since the band’s formation in 2007, the Stringdusters have collaborated with a mix of well-known artists, including Ryan Adams, Joss Stone, Bruce Hornsby, Joan Osborne and Lee Ann Womack.
Touring, Falco said, is its own reward, as it allows him and his bandmates to “put a collection of your best stuff out there in the world.” But he said he also takes great pleasure in the fact that bluegrass music is at home anywhere.
“It’s interesting,” he said, “how you can get together on the side of a mountain” and play bluegrass, since its more organic sound is not electronics-dependent.
Tickets for The Infamous Stringdusters show at the Bottle & Cork in Dewey Beach are available for $25 at www.deweybeachlife.com. Doors open for the Sunday, Aug. 20, show at 7 p.m.