The Infamous Stringdusters took the stage in the intimate Iota Club and Cafe in Arlington, VA. They tuned up, got situated and then did a 6-way fist bump before taking off an evening of bluegrass, country, rock and roll, blues, gospel and as their bassist Travis Book calls it, “Old-Time Trance.” Throughout the night they played originals, new and old, offering a killer duet between mandolinist Jesse Cobb and dobro player Andy Hall on “C-Bops (Special Ops),” U2’s “In God’s Country,” and a “Steam Powered Aeroplane” that nearly brought the house down.
If the Stringdusters were ten years older, people might well call them a supergroup. Instead, these six seriously talented pickers are swiftly becoming something of a phenomenon. Despite killer solos, intelligent three-part harmonies and intricate improvisational band work that ebbs and flows flawlessly, these guys look like they are simply having a party on a stage that is not quite big enough to hold them. They move around, comment on each other’s solos and generally seem to be having a grand old time. And the packed room at the Iota was right there with them.
Guitarist Andy Falco was in rare form this evening. At one point, he got excited and walked in front of the monitors and stood virtually over the crowd. He was promptly joined by banjo player Chris Pandolfi and the two of them traded solos front and center. And Jeremy Garrett, with his old-time fiddle playing, was the heart of some of the more solid group build-ups throughout the night, tearing away on his instrument as the rest of the band fought to stay on top of him.
Their set ended and they exited the stage. But the packed, intimate room left them no place to go. So they took a moment and then re-took the stage. They closed out the night with a blazing “Uncle Pen” and reminded us that they were playing again tomorrow and that we should not be shy. It seemed an unnecessary reminder.
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