The Bowery Ballroom
The Infamous Stringdusters

The Infamous Stringdusters

Lake Street Dive

Thu, December 27, 2012

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

The Bowery Ballroom

New York, NY

This event is 21 and over

The Infamous Stringdusters
The Infamous Stringdusters
Dismiss labels. Forget trying to fit into a scene. Just relax and play your songs.

That encompasses the prevailing spirit of Let It Go, the fifth studio album from Grammy-nominated bluegrass expansionists The Infamous Stringdusters. The new effort, released April 1 on the band’s own High Country Recordings, finds the band on firm footing, at ease with an evolving sound that defies categorization. It’s acoustic music, sure, but not the kind you’ll hear from any other band. Roots can be traced but boundaries don’t exist.

The Infamous Stringdusters have proven they can both mine the past and look forward to the unknown, and the group’s new album is a touchstone for a group of tightly bonded musicians completely comfortable with each other and in their collective identity.

Perhaps the sentiment is best summarized through five joined voices in the mountaintop gospel-hued title track: “If it’s worry you’ve been feeling over things you can’t control, it’s time to let it go.”

The Evolution

When The Infamous Stringdusters first emerged eight years ago, the band was immediately branded fast-picking Nashville wunderkinds, a new-generation super group built to revive the high lonesome sound. Then came immediate accolades—IBMA awards, a chart-topping self-titled album for Sugar Hill Records and a Grammy nomination for “Best Country Instrumental” (for "Magic No. 9" from the 2010 album Things That Fly). Incendiary chops, complete with undeniable instrumental virtuosity and heartfelt harmonies, immediately positioned the band to be longstanding bluegrass torchbearers.

But for the five members of The Stringdusters— Andy Hall (Dobro), Andy Falco (guitar), Chris Pandolfi (banjo), Jeremy Garrett (fiddle) and Travis Book (upright bass)—reverence for traditionalism has always been only part of the equation. The group has always remained intent on fostering something bigger, more original. It’s this desire—and the combined efforts of uniquely creative minds—that has brought the quintet to its current place as multi-dimensional string explorers, mixing tight song craft from a variety of Americana styles and an improvisational spirit. Armed with an exhilarating, often-unpredictable live show, the open-minded approach has certainly resonated and allowed the band to easily fit on a diverse set of stages—from Telluride and Grey Fox to Bonnaroo and High Sierra—along the way building crowds across the country that fill large rock clubs.

The Lifestyle Experience

The past year was particularly transformative, as the band members realized there was no need to go through the formulaic motions in a shaky music industry. Bolstered by the support of a loyal and dedicated grassroots fan base, The Infamous Stringdusters are constantly looking for opportunities to create new experiences. Oftentimes it happens on stage, like the recent sit-ins from Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh or jazz guitar legend John Scofield. Other times it’s through accompanying adventures, like the band’s August 2013 trip on the Middle Fork of Idaho’s Salmon River.

Following the group’s 2013 summer American Rivers Tour, which doubled as an awareness campaign for water sustainability issues in partnership with prominent outdoor industry companies including Patagonia, Klean Kanteen and Osprey Packs, the band members and select fans and friends embarked on a six-day float trip through an unspoiled wilderness area. With instruments in tow, the band played music daily, standing on the banks of the river or sitting together in campsite circles. The inspiration of natural surroundings yielded fresh songs that landed on the new album. “Middlefork” is a Pandolfi-composed newgrass instrumental that conveys the mood of being free in pristine open spaces. Garrett’s “Where The Rivers Run Cold” features a fast progression and introspective lyrics that peak with a bold chorus about enjoying the beauty that surrounds.

In The Studio

When it was time to record Let It Go, the band came together in the fall at White Star Sound, a secluded studio with rustic, close-knit accommodations and state-of-the-art equipment, located on a vast, historic farm outside of Charlottesville, Virginia. It’s a quiet place, accessed by a dirt road, where chickens wander by freely and long pastoral views can be enjoyed in every direction. With no distractions, it was the perfect place to distill an overflowing well of ideas that had been filling since the band’s last release, 2012’s Silver Sky.

The result is easily the band’s most cohesive musical statement to date. It’s a record that respects the studio process. Dynamic picking is delivered with restrained grace, in service to song. There’s stylistic range within the context of a unified vision, as melodic reflective tunes wander between nuanced expansive folk (“I’ll Get Away”), anthemic country jams (“Colorado”), freewheelin’ acoustic rock (“Peace of Mind” and “Light & Love”) and dusty balladry (“Rainbows”).

The members of The Infamous Stringdusters now all reside in different locations. Hall and Pandolfi recently felt the calling of the mountains and both moved to Colorado. Guitar ace Falco returned to his roots in Long Island to be near family, while Garrett remains in Nashville, where he’s known as a prolific songwriter. Book dwells quietly in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, near the site of the band’s annual October festival The Festy Experience.

Occasional separation has proven to be a good thing. It’s important to remember these are five musicians with unique individual talents, but they all realize they have an undeniably special chemistry when they come together. That was apparent from day one. But now after years of growth—both personal and professional—the band has cast off labels and found an existence where music is about a greater connection. Through friendship, democracy, skill, passion and open minds, it’s a broader lifestyle filled with community and plenty of celebration.
Lake Street Dive
Lake Street Dive
Lake Street Dive find themselves on the cusp of stardom, though they insist they will always be the same people whose stage outfits once consisted of matching sweater vests. “We realize this could all go away tomorrow,” says Rachael Price. “But that won’t change what we do. We want to continue to do this for a long, long time. This is what we love. We just want to make sure we keep enjoying ourselves.”

Lake Street Dive have been performing for nearly a decade after meeting as fellow students at the New England Conservatory in Boston. The band was hand picked by Minneapolis trumpet/guitar player Mike Olson and named after an actual neighborhood of seedy bars in his hometown. Vocalist Rachael Price came from outside Nashville, Tennessee, stand-up bassist Bridget Kearney was an Iowa native, while drummer Mike Calabrese called Philadelphia home. “I wasn’t only impressed with their musicianship,” says Olson, who acquired the nickname “McDuck” while at the conservatory for his reclusive ways. “They were also a lot of fun just to hang out with. The first four years of rehearsals were more like glorified dinner parties.”

Lake Street Dive has come a long way, but this just could be the start of something even bigger.

It took a casually made video featuring the band gathered around a single mic, performing a cover of Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back,” shot on a Brighton, Massachusetts, street corner to grab the public’s attention—its YouTube views now hurtling past a million views. What followed was nothing less than a modern-day music business success story—T Bone Burnett tapping them to perform on the Another Day, Another Time show at Town Hall featuring music from and inspired by the Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis, taped for an upcoming special on Showtime. The New Yorker raved of their Town Hall performance: “I can’t imagine then, that Lake Street Dive—a quartet led by an amazing young singer, Rachael Price—won’t be getting some air time soon.” Rolling Stone called the band “unexpected showstoppers,” while Hollywood Reporter noted the group “delivered one of the show’s best moments with the swinging ‘You Go Down Smooth,’ with stirring vocals by lead singer Rachael Price.” The New York Daily News was similarly enthused, saying Lake Street Dive “was the evening’s wild card,” and noting Price “has the soulful howl of a young Etta James.”

And just like that, Lake Street Dive went from playing for a small devoted following, to selling out venues and planning an initial European tour, with dates on several late-night TV shows in the offing.

While “I Want You Back,” a track from their six-song Fun Machine EP, which included five covers and an original track, was spreading like wildfire on the Internet, the band had little idea what was happening. They were ensconced at Great North Sound Society, a recording studio located on an 18th century farmhouse in Parsonsfield, Maine, two hours from Boston, with producer/engineer Sam Kassirer (Josh Ritter) a location so remote, cell phone reception was spotty and web access non-existent.

The new album, Bad Self Portraits, which is being released by the Northampton, Massachusetts indie label Signature Sounds Recording as the follow-up to a self-titled debut and subsequent EP, is a microcosm of Lake Street Dive’s evolution of the band from “a weird alt-country jazz group to a pop-soul juggernaut, that turns ‘60s influences like Brill Building girl groups (“Stop Your Crying”), British Invasion rock (“Bobby Tanqueray”), horn-driven Stax R&B (“You Go Down Smooth”), Motown soul (“Use Me Up”) and even The Band-like gospel blues (“What About Me”).

“Our musical development has been like Google Earth,” explains Olson, “going from the entire universe to a specific place. That’s how we’ve honed in on our sound. We had the whole world of music at our fingertips, and we were unsure of what direction to take, but now we’re zeroing in a little closer.”

All four members of the band take part in the writing. The Bridget-penned title track is a wry commentary on how those selfie iPhone photos are just a cover for loneliness, but it could also refer to the rest of the album, each song a polaroid glimpse of a band that is constantly evolving.

“Nothing we do is set in stone,” says Olson about the band’s recording process in the studio, and that they are, first and foremost, a live outfit. “Songs change when we start to play them for people. That determines the stylistic direction more than anything else. When we record a song, that’s just a snapshot of where it was at that moment. And it continues to grow as we perform it."

And as things are rapidly growing for Lake Street Dive, the nine years that they spent focusing on their musical development has left them with one constant to strive for. "We are named in homage to dive bar bands," says Calabrese, "we were, are and always will be a dive bar band. Whether we're playing for 10 people or 10,000 we want them to have that feeling."
Venue Information:
The Bowery Ballroom
6 Delancey St
New York, NY, 10002
http://www.boweryballroom.com/