The Infamous Stringdusters are six bluegrass pickers who recently came together in Nashville. Their debut album was released on Sugar Hill records. They won three awards at last year’s prestigious International Bluegrass Music Association Awards and have even collaborated with Dolly Parton. But, most importantly, they are coming to grace the Sings Like Hell stage this Saturday, March 22. Bassist Travis Book recently chatted about the band.
Being a progressive bluegrass ensemble, do you feel that the genre allows you to be a little more adaptive when you play live? I think it does; I think specifically our take on that genre. Both our musical tastes and our repertoire cover a lot of ground. So, depending on where the audience is at, and the situation, we can take things in a lot of different directions. We can play in the corner of a rowdy little bar or play a huge concert hall or big bluegrass festival and generally create an experience that people enjoy. A lot of that comes from the amount of touring experience we’ve had. We are constantly on the road and always playing in completely different situations.
What have been some of the band’s highs and lows while on the road? When we were over playing Freight & Salvage in Berkeley, David Grissom came down and sat in with us. That was a real highlight for everybody, as we’re all huge Grissom fans. And playing Telluride was something special, too, because that festival was a real strong foothold for this kind of progressive bluegrass music early on. Some of the more challenging? That just comes down to the ones where there have been inexperienced sound guys, or shows that have been badly promoted where the band outnumbers the audience. But, at some point, every band plays that gig. It’s almost like a rite of passage.
How does making music in the studio environment differ from playing live? The best way of explaining it is that when we go into the studio we’re trying to bend the situation to meet our will. We are idealizing things and everything has to be just right. We want the sounds to be right and everyone to feel comfortable and agreeing on the tunes we are going to do and how they’re going to be done. In a live situation, the tables are turned to where music-the style and improvisation-all stems from the crowd. We really feed off our environment in a live situation