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The Infamous Stringdusters Straddle Genres on 'Silver Sky'

The Infamous Stringdusters, L to R: Jeremy Garrett (fiddle), Andy Falco (guitar), Chris Pandolfi (banjo), Travis Book (bass), Andy Hall (dobro). (Photo credit: Tom Daly)
The Infamous Stringdusters, L to R: Jeremy Garrett (fiddle), Andy Falco (guitar), Chris Pandolfi (banjo), Travis Book (bass), Andy Hall (dobro). (Photo credit: Tom Daly)
Katherine Cole
Since their debut in 2007, The Infamous Stringdusters have straddled several musical genres. Some fans think of them as a progressive bluegrass band, while others think of them more as a rock band that happens to play acoustic instruments.

“Silver Sky” is CD number five for the Grammy-nominated, Charlottesville, Virginia- based quintet. While some people think of them as a bluegrass band because of their acoustic instruments, these days the Stringdusters describe their sound as “high country.”

What is that? I’m not exactly sure, so let’s just say that it’s a mix of all things progressive: bluegrass, rock and country.

The Infamous Stringdusters Straddle Genres on 'Silver Sky'
The Infamous Stringdusters Straddle Genres on 'Silver Sky'i
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While all five members of the band are accomplished musicians, make no mistake - this is a real group, not just five guys trying to show who can play the fastest or the most notes. The song “Rockets” does a good job of showcasing how the individual sounds weave into one.

"Silver Sky"
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"Silver Sky"
The Infamous Stringdusters took a step outside of the box when it came time to find a producer for “Silver Sky.” Instead of going for someone who’s gained notoriety in the bluegrass or Americana books, they turned to hip-hop, choosing to work with Atlanta- based producer Billy Hume.

While Hume’s best known for working with rappers like David Banner, Bonecrusher and Ludacris, his background also includes time spent doing regular singer-songwriter gigs at The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville and playing mandolin in a southern rock band. In other words, he was an inspired, and unexpected, choice.  Which is also a good description of the Stringdusters distinctly non-bluegrass cover of the Police hit “Walking On The Moon.”

The Stringdusters’ creativity isn’t confined to their choice of songs or producers. They’re now touring with a light show, but still keep their onstage performances loose enough to break away from an arrangement and into a jam when it’s appropriate.

There are two versions of “Silver Sky” available. One is the standard 12-track disc, the other is a double-set that features a previously unreleased cover of The Grateful Dead’s “He’s Gone.” It also adds a copy of the Stringdusters 2011 live recording “We’ll Do It Live.” It opens with “Fork In The Road,” the title track of The Infamous Stringdusters’ 2007 debut.

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