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Entertainment News

Sunday, 7 October, 2007 10:07 PM

CMA New Artist Spotlight: The Infamous Stringdusters

PHOTO BY KRISTIN BARLOWE

Sugar Hill recording artists The Infamous Stringusters.

By Bob Doerschuk
© 2007 CMA Close Up News Service

Traditional music is a tradition in this deft and daring band. Dobro wizard Andy Hall's résumé includes work with Charlie Daniels, Dolly Parton and Earl Scruggs. Guitarist Chris Eldridge studied with Tony Rice, and banjoist Chris Pandolfi with Tony Trischka. It was also a family affair for Eldridge, who grew up on the road with his dad's band, the Seldom Scene, and Jeremy Garrett, who learned the fiddler's art while touring with his father in The Grasshoppers.

And each of The Infamous Stringdusters boasts ample stage experience, with bassist Travis Book laying the foundation of the band Broke Mountain, Jesse Cobb tearing it up on mandolin behind Jim Lauderdale and Lee Ann Womack, and the rest seasoned through gigs with Bering Strait, Bobby Osborne and other luminaries.

Their professionalism, tempered by deep feeling for the music and animated by youthful exuberance, resonates throughout Fork in the Road. "Dream of You" rides an express train straight for the heart of bluegrass, with phenomenal articulation from Cobb and Pandolfi. After this track, they offer "Moon Man," whose rhythmic twists help bring this current to a boil beneath the heat of Garrett's solo.

A sound that blends echoes and more adventurous extensions of the rustic past unfolds throughout their Sugar Hill Records debut. This broad range has won them respect, from the International Bluegrass Music Association's World of Bluegrass Show to chic settings such as New York's Rodeo Bar and Boston's Passim. All of which suggests that there's nothing "infamous" about these guys at all - "amazing" and "unforgettable" come a little closer to the truth.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS:

Who is your musical hero?

GARRETT: "Although I have many, my biggest musical hero is my dad. We have traveled literally thousands of miles together to play music and I could not begin to count all the songs we have played. Through it all he has taught me a lot about music and of course many other things."

PANDOLFI: "Béla Fleck inspired me to play banjo. There is no end to his creativity and musicality."

Which song would you secretly love to cover?

COBB: "'On the Road Again' by Bob Seger. I always thought it would make a great acoustic song, and almost everyone at one point in their lives can relate to it."

What CD is in your stereo?

ELDRIDGE: "Sky Blue Sky by Wilco. It's awesome."

Who is your dream duet partner?

HALL: "Tim O'Brien. And I may get my wish pretty soon."

What song do you wish you had written?

BOOK: "'Gentle on My Mind,' by John Hartford. It's one of my absolute favorites. The first time I heard it, Benny Galloway, one of my mentors, brought it to a band we were in and I was stunned. It's so simple, beautiful, melodic and the message is clear."

What book is on your nightstand?

HALL: "'The Power of Now.' It's an amazing book that you can use like a guide in everyday life."

What do you sing in the shower?

HALL: "In the shower I've been rocking 'Hey Jude' quite a bit. And the occasional Stringdusters tune."

What word or phrase do you find yourself saying over and over again?

COBB: "'Git!' Git is probably the most used term in the whole band. Literally taken as, 'Get away from me.' It's usually used in a friendly manner but not always."

What mode of transportation do you prefer?

COBB: "Ground. I love to drive to and from gigs, take in the scenery and such. You miss out on so much when you fly."

What actor would portray you in a biopic about your life?

PANDOLFI: "Jim Carrey. I think he might be an inch or two taller than I am, but Hollywood can fix that no problem."

On the Web: www.infamousstringdusters.com

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