Music Q&A: The Infamous Stringdusters
Going on a national tour wasn’t enough for Grammy-nominated bluegrass/country/folk band The Infamous Stringdusters.
From July 31 through Aug. 10, The Infamous Stringdusters will combine a love of music and the outdoors during the 2013 American Rivers Tour, where the group plays river towns, donating portions of ticket sales to the American Rivers organization, which works to protect and restore U.S. rivers and streams (americanrivers.org.)
Before The Infamous Stringdusters — fiddler Jeremy Garrett, guitar player Andy Falco, banjo player Chris Pandolfi, dobro player Andy Hall and upright bass player Travis Book — play as part of the 2013 Colorado Riverfront Concert Series, Book talked to me about the idea for this tour, what fans can expect from a “‘Dusters” show and his love of mountain biking.
Melinda Mawdsley: Thanks so much for your time. Tell me about this tour.
Travis Book: We haven’t done anything like this before exactly. We were playing out West last year at some great venues on the river and found a really strong connection between the music culture and river culture. It was so much fun playing these beautiful places, and we decided to build a tour around this. It occurred to us that extrapolating this idea would not only engage new partners but spread the message that rivers our are livelihood.
Mawdsley: Does the band really enjoy performing outdoors?
Book: We do. I think it’s just really an extension of our world view.
Book: Musicians tend to spend a lot of time in the room, head down, getting better at their craft, and we’ve all done our fair share of that. When we play outdoors, conditions sometimes leave things to be desired. We once had a show in Vail at 10 at night in a full on blizzard. It was definitely extreme. The instruments took a beating. We had to drink three bottles of whiskey to stay warm enough to play, but it was a unique experience. In the summer, it’s hot and the strings get sticky, but playing outdoors gives shows an added opportunity to be unique or memorable. From my perspective, I’d much rather experience a show outdoors.
Mawdsley: You’ve experienced the Colorado outdoors at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival before but have you performed outdoors here before?
Book: No. Never performed there before. I’m really excited about it. I’ve done some mountain biking out there, and I’m hoping to get some mountain biking in and maybe some floating. I hear the venue is amazing. It’s right on the river?
Mawdsley: Yeah. It’s right on the river. What can fans expect from the show?
Book: We play original string band music, but it has a rock aesthetic. It’s a really good time. It’s as much a social event and dancing party as a concert. We do this thing I don’t think anyone else does. It’s very unique and very fun.
Mawdsley: How did you guys meet?
Book: We sort of met through the bluegrass scene. We’re from all over. There’s a guy from Idaho, a couple guys from New York. The New York guys now live in Colorado. I live in Virginia. We’re highly mobile. We came together in a range of circumstances as will happen. We just met playing music.
Mawdsley: In your bio, Jeremy (the fiddler) is quoted as saying the people who listen to your music get out and experience life. How do you guys experience life when not touring?
Book: For myself, I live in the mountains of Virginia. I live on an 80-acre piece of property owned by a brewery. When I’m home, I’ve built six miles of singletrack out there for cycling and running. I run the wood chipper and chainsaw a lot to clear the woods of our campground. I have a garden. I just had a baby and want to feed her something other than chemicals. Everyone else does pretty much the same thing. The cats that just moved to Colorado are getting way into mountain biking.
Mawdsley: Speaking of mountain biking, you mentioned you’ve ridden here before. I’m guessing you’d like to do that again?
Book: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. I may float, but I’m definitely planning to do some mountain biking on this trip. It’s legendary out there.
Mawdsley: What do you ride?
Book: I ride single speed, exclusively. I love riding single speed. If I had more money, I’d probably ride a full suspension 29er. I’m just as poor as they come.
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The Infamous Stringdusters show will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 1, at James M. Robb-Colorado River State Park in Fruita. Tickets cost $2 and are available at City Market stores and TicketsWest.com. No limit on tickets. Children 4 and younger get in free.
Food and drink, including local wine and beer, will be for sale. Gates open at 6 p.m. No outside beverage containers allowed. No pets. Picnics and lawn chairs permitted.
Here is the rest of the 2013 Colorado Riverfront Concert Series, which benefits the work of the Colorado Riverfront Commission:
■ Shemekia Copeland (blues) — Friday, Aug. 2.
■ Asleep at the Wheel (Texas swing) — Friday, Aug. 9.
■ Poco (country rock) — Friday, Aug. 16.