"The Infamous Stringdusters" At Telluride Opera House, 3/26

[click “Play” to listen to Travis Book speaking with Susan]

The progressive acoustic group known as The Infamous Stringdusters first performed in town at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. That was three years ago, in 2007, with the release of their now acclaimed first album, “Fork in the Road,” on Sugar Hill. The collection earned The Infamous Stringdusters, three top awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association: Album of the Year, Song of the Year, and Emerging Artist of the Year. Not bad in an industry that generally forces anyone wet behind the ears to pay big dues before commanding the limelight.

The Infamous Stringdusters’ long anticipated return happens this Friday, March 26, 9 p.m., at Telluride’s historic Sheridan Opera House. (Doors/box office at 8:30 p.m.)

Five years ago, Andy Hall (dobro), Chris Pandolfi (banjo), Jeremy Garrett (fiddle), Jesse Cobb (mandolin) were all sidemen with knock-out street cred having worked with the likes of Dolly Parton, Ronnie Bowman, Lee Ann Womack, and Drew Emmitt of Leftover Salmon. Travis Book (upright bass) had taken a slightly different route, anchoring a popular jamgrass band in Colorado. But that was not the whole enchilada. Each of the stringsters also had fresh songwriting ideas, wide-ranging musical interests, distinctive playing styles, and the drive to do something with the package. That something turned out to be launching their own band.

The Stringdusters, to a man, acoustic hotshots  –  Hall, Andy Falco (guitar), Pandolfi, Garrett, Cobb , and  Book– more than live up to their name: their formidable, original sound and instrumental dexterity blow the dust right off any available strings.

The group’s second eponymous album proved The Infamous Stringdusters’ skills as songwriters and arrangers and introduced Falco. Their third album, Things That Fly, due out in about a month, April 20, 2010, has the band venturing into virtually uncharted territory for an acoustic group: a sonically and thematically expansive record that lends itself to absorbed listening from start to finish, much as the great rock albums do. A pure creative exploration, The Infamous – now famous – Stringdusters all had a hand in writing the songs. They added lap steel ,viola, organ  –  and estrogen into the mix: songwriter/chanteuse Sarah Siskind (recently Mrs. Book) and Aoife O’Donovan (Crooked Still) perform on the album along with country standout Dierks Bentley.

To learn more about what makes The Infamous Stringdusters tick and the upcoming Telluride concert, click the “play” button and listen to Travis Book’s podcast.

Watch the You Tube video for a preview of the Opera House concert.

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