"With a nod to the past and a firm foot down on the gas toward the future, the 'Dusters... don't leave bluegrass behind; they're stretching it from within." - New York Times
"The Stringdusters are the Star Wars of Bluegrass and this is their Return of the Jedi. Stop fiddling with your lightsaber and get this album." - Ryan Adams
"...these stellar bluegrass players are pushing the music forward." - David Dye/World Café
A band should never stop progressing.
Forward motion belies creativity and evolution. A staunch and unwavering commitment to progression is how an unassuming group of five friends can collectively become a GRAMMY® Award-winning force of nature. That’s exactly how it happened for The Infamous Stringdusters. Within thirteen years since their 2005 formation, the band—Travis Book [bass, vocals], Andy Falco [guitar, vocals], Jeremy Garrett [fiddle, vocals], Andy Hall [dobro, vocals], and Chris Pandolfi [banjo, vocals]— have consistently forged ahead, relentlessly exploring the musical possibilities of a “bluegrass ensemble” and breaking down boundaries in the process.
In a genre known for traditionalism, the ‘Dusters have consistently covered new ground, inspired fans, and redefined what a bluegrass band can be. 2018 represented a high watermark for the quintet as they took home a GRAMMY® Award in the category of “Best Bluegrass Album” for their 2017 release Laws of Gravity.
Even with such milestones, the members feel like they’re only getting started.
“I’m most inspired by the evolution of the music,” agrees Book. “The band is reaching new heights with our exploration and jamming. The repertoire is deep, and our crew is so entwined in the music and presentation of the show. It’s all come together in the last year or so.”
Hall adds, “Releasing three recorded projects this year has been artistically exciting. Mostly, the band has taken a huge leap forward in our live show with our improvisation blending from one song into the next. It’s made everything that much more fun.”
The motion includes a prolific output that rivals any act in music. In 2017 alone, they released three projects: Laws of Gravity, Laws of Gravity: Live, and Undercover Vol. 2 through Lumenhouse Recordings. Impressively, the band’s eighth full length record, Laws of Gravity, received a 2018 GRAMMY® Award nomination in the category of “Best Bluegrass Album”, bowed in the Top 10 of the Billboard Heatseekers Chart, and marked their third debut at #1 on the Bluegrass Albums Chart with Undercover Vol. 2 becoming their seventh Top 10 entry. Recognized by some of the top names in the game, they teamed up with Ryan Adams for performances of “Sweet Carolina” on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and at Telluride Bluegrass Festival, and Newport Folk Festival. Phil Lesh also tapped them as his band for Phil and Friends at Lockn alongside members of Phish.
Another tenet of that progression, the second installment of the Undercover series exemplifies the exploration ethos, transforming various recognizable anthems into raw and rootsy gems. “Jessica” by The Allman Brothers Band, rollicks and rolls, “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk maintains its dancefloor energy, and Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” adopts newfound urgency. The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” undergoes a bluegrass makeover with galloping banjo and blistering solos.
Along the way, The Stringdusters have won three International Bluegrass Music Association Awards in 2007 for their debut record, Fork in the Road, in addition to snagging a nomination for “Instrumental Group of the Year” by the International Bluegrass Music Association in 2010. Meanwhile, Things That Fly’s “Magic No. 9” garnered a 2011 GRAMMY® nod in the category of “Best Country Instrumental.”
The Infamous Stringdusters are grateful for the recognition, but they continue to move forward full speed ahead.
“I just hope that our music gives people a chance to feel free; free from the burdens of everyday life that we all have, free to just be themselves and be happy,” Falco leaves off.
“It's an amazing gift to play this music, to share this journey with these guys,” concludes Book. “I wouldn't trade it for anything, there's no other gig I'd rather have, no other place I’d rather be than in the moment making this music. This band, our organization and crew, we’re a family and I think I speak for everyone when I say I hope we can do this for years to come.”
Singer-songwriter Cris Jacobs has explored the outer realms of bluegrass, folk, funk, country, blues, soul, and rock with stylistic reverence, adventurous alchemy, and emotional sincerity. Throughout his musical travels he’s amassed a dedicated fanbase engaged by the warmth and high quality of his lived-in songs.
“I’ve always just accepted and respected that evolution is part of the creative process,” the Baltimore, Maryland-based artist explains. “But I’ve made sure that throughout my work, I’ve always been honest. That’s the end goal, writing music that is meaningful to me.”
Cris Jacobs began his career fronting the acclaimed band and award-winning jam band The Bridge. The sextet released four albums in 10 years, and averaged 200 shows a year. When the band went on permanent hiatus, Cris continued on following the music. In 2012, he issued his solo debut, Songs For Cats And Dogs, a masterful album featuring poignant songwriting, honey and whiskey soaked vocals, burly riffs, dazzling guitar playing, and bucolic pedal steel guitar. Jacobs’s solo career was welcomed by fans and media alike, widening his profile as he appeared on television, on NPR’s Mountain Stage sessions, and was personally tapped by Stevie Winwood and Sturgill Simpson for national tours. Currently, Jacobs is readying his sophomore album.
It’s been a profoundly inspiring new beginning for Jacobs. Away from the band mindset, he realized he could be more reflective and explore more intimate ends of the Americana spectrum. As he prepares his second solo album, he embraces these new expressive avenues deeper, exploring more confessional topics and the broad creative range of instrumental configurations. Lately, Jacobs has been performing captivating guitar and voice shows, and his upcoming album will feature this inviting setting alongside rollicking full band excursions.
“Things never go exactly the way you think they will go,” Jacobs says, reflecting back on his multi-faceted career. “I’ve always just followed what I honestly felt, and seeing some of the same faces in the audience year after year, people that have stuck by me through different creative configurations, is a wonderful feeling. When I go home at night, that makes me sleep well, knowing I touched someone. “