The Bowery Ballroom
The Infamous Stringdusters

The Infamous Stringdusters

Hot Day at the Zoo

Fri, March 16, 2012

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

The Bowery Ballroom

New York, NY

$18 advance / $20 day of show

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.
Hot Day at the Zoo
Hot Day at the Zoo
New England's genre-bending American roots string band, Hot Day at the Zoo, is spreading their "zoograss" sound nationwide. The high-energy quartet mixes folk, blues, ragtime and jazz with progressive bluegrass and Americana-infused rock and roll. Hot Day at the Zoo is pioneering their sound in a way that is reminiscent of how Johnny Cash transformed traditional country music. They have the songwriting and full-bodied sound of the Grateful Dead, the technicality and momentum of Sam Bush, the tightness and the ability to talk musically like Charles Mingus, and the cool, easy rock demeanor of Steely Dan. Fans accurately describe this sound as “zoograss.”


Hot Day at the Zoo is Jon Cumming (banjo, dobro, vocals), Michael Dion (guitar, harmonica, vocals,) Jed Rosen (upright bass, vocals), and JT Lawrence (mandolin, vocals). Dion and Cumming are the band’s two main songwriters. Both, with distinctive personalities, offer enough stories to fill a catalogue of songs that are whole-hearted and full of sincerity. Add in Rosen, who’s technical prowess allows him to hold down the beat and push the music along, and Lawrence, who’s youthful energy and stellar musicianship fuel his strength in fulfilling each song’s missing piece, and the result is a band who humbly creates something bigger than any of themselves.

Hot Day at the Zoo is set to release their third album, Zoograss, on January 12, 2010 on their independent label INTA Records. Zoograss is a live album, recorded at The Waterhole in Saranac Lake, NY on February 14, 2009. It was mixed by Sir Bob Nash at Wonka Sound in Lowell, MA and mastered by Jay Frigoletto at ProMastering in Brookline, NH. Zoograss follows HDATZ's 2008 EP, Long Way Home, a dark and edgy album added to their collection that includes the wildly popular Cool As Tuesday.

In a venue so personally special to the band (Phish had Nectar’s, HDATZ has The Waterhole), and on a night when all the planets and stars seemed to align to create an ideal environment for the creative process, HDATZ recorded a special, representative performance. “That night at The Waterhole was one of those times that I knew from the first few notes that we were on point,” says Lawrence. “The energy exchange between us and the audience was incredible.” Zoograss is a true picture in time, capturing a band that has undergone transformations over the years, including two line-up changes, but has evolved and matured in their songwriting and live performance and is now tighter than ever before.

Zoograss brings HDATZ to life and proves that this is a band you must see live. “Expect to see four guys up on stage playing their asses off and singing their hearts out,” says Rosen. All four members play with so much vivacity and vigor that an abundance of both baby powder to keep dry and superglue to prevent their fingernails from falling off is necessary. Whether they’re headlining or performing as special guest support for artists including The Band’s Levon Helm, David Grisman, Leon Russell, moe., and Hot Buttered Rum, HDATZ connects with their audience through their defiant high energy on stage. With improvisations that give songs new shape, signature arrangements of covers, and many special guests, concertgoers may expect to never see the same show twice.

Not unlike the Garcia/Weir songwriting partnership, Dion and Cumming strike a balance that’s always signature. Zoograss illustrates the individuality of the two songwriters and the band’s ability as a whole to carry their stories. The track “Mercy of the Sea,” written by Dion, weighs in at over nine minutes on Zoograss. With imagery like, "Bones made of coral, saltwater in my veins, and a tidal wave of hope," this track required a great deal of complimentary energy and instrumental imagination from all four members who succeeded brilliantly. “‘Mercy of the Sea’ stretches things out and highlights the band’s dynamics and ability to speak to each other musically,” says Cumming. Quite the antithesis of this track is Cumming’s “One Day Soon,” three-plus minutes of direct, beautiful poetry: “With every mile I leave behind, it’s one more I can’t borrow.” “‘One Day Soon’ departs from our high-energy, jam-based mode, and tones it down some,” says Cumming. “For a tune like this, the song is the master and the band serves it well.”

Zoograss illustrates a new beginning for HDATZ who continue to develop exponentially. “Every week it seems we are breaking into new, uncharted territory with new songs, new ideas, and new aspirations,” says Dion. “This album is just a taste of what this band is capable of.”

by Laura Goldfarb
Venue Information:
The Bowery Ballroom
6 Delancey St
New York, NY, 10002
http://www.boweryballroom.com/