Tour Diary: The Infamous Stringdusters

“We live in a musical world that is heavy on camaraderie and collaboration,” The Infamous Stringdusters’ Chris Pandolfi says. “It’s one of the truly beautiful things about the bluegrass scene.”

As the banjo player explains, The Infamous Stringdusters have taken “full advantage” of that spirit during their winter tour supporting their old friends Greensky Bluegrass— collaborating nightly and even coming together as part of the stray ad hoc super groups Booger Magnolia and Leather Bound on a particularly special night.

The Infamous Stringdusters’ communal spirit is also on full display throughout their new LP, Toward the Fray, which finds the Grammy-winning group looking deeper inward than perhaps ever before. Written during the depths of the global pandemic and in the shadow of George Floyd’s murder, the LP also serves as a musical document of the often tumultuous past two years. Yet, the group still knows how to have fun, as their marathon winter run clearly proves. “Much of the camaraderie between our bands unfolds during the show, but there are also many great moments backstage— learning each other’s music, trying new arrangements and setting the stage for whatever is to come,” Pandolfi says of the Dusters’ recent run with Greensky Bluegrass. “This is the fun part.”

Here, the members of The Infamous Stringdusters offer a glimpse in their lives on and off the stage during their recent celebratory run, along with photos by George Trent Grogan of Mountain Trout Photography.

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“This photo was taken on night one in Albany and captures Paul [Hoffman] from Greensky entertaining us. These bands both have a great sense of humor, and we spend most of our time together laughing or trying to get each other to crack up.” (Travis Book)
“I’ve known Anders [Beck] from Greensky since the mid-2000s. It’s not all that often that I get to play with another dobro player, but, every so often, we get to share the stage and square off on a jam. It’s great to hear what he’s doing musically and with his tones. I’m glad we got a whole tour to nerd out!” (Andy Hall)
“So much goes into putting our live show together, and it’s more complicated now than ever before. But once the lights drop and the music starts, we get to enter that zone where everything comes to life and the moment takes over. For us, that is the payoff and we are so grateful to be able to tap into it once again.” (Chris Pandolfi)
“Sometimes I search the venue for cool or weird sounding spaces. A lot of these venues have all kinds of secret stairways and old, seldom-used passages. This is sort of a Shining moment at the Palace Theater in Albany” (Andy Hall)
“This tour had a stop at Blue Point Brewing Co., which is only five minutes from my house on Long Island. My beautiful wife Jasmine (carrying our baby) came to the show, so technically this would be my son’s first Stringdusters show!” (Andy Falco)
“It’s pretty fun to have a great photographer along on a tour. It’s not often that you actually get to see up-close photos of some of these instruments. It’s also not very often that you can see that detail from the stage.” (Jeremy Garrett)
“It’s always a trip after just being a dad at home for a few months— making lunches for school, playing Barbies with my daughter—to, all of a sudden, be bathed in light, haze and sound in front of an audience.” (Andy Falco)
“This is a really typical moment for our side of the stage: Falco absolutely ripping and me in bass stank-face mode. Developing bass lines during long solos and jams is one of the most interesting and challenging parts of my role in the band and, when it comes together, you get the stank-face.” (Travis Book)
“This photo really captures the essence of what being a Stringduster is all about—camaraderie, teamwork and going at it as hard as we can.” (Jeremy Garrett)