The Infamous Stringdusters is giving bluegrass a longer leash and embracing its newfound freedom under its own label, High Country Records. About two years ago, the band, which settled in Charlottesville, Va., ended its contract with Sugar Hill Records and now is at liberty to make music whenever and however it chooses.
"It feels great to be free and not have to ask another organization of people for permission," says guitarist Andy Falco. "We can just do it."
Who: The Infamous Stringdusters
When: 8 p.m. Thursday, May 9
Where: The Rogue Theatre, 143 S.E. H St., Grants Pass
The Stringdusters — bassist Travis Book, Falco, fiddler Jeremy Garrett, Dobro player Andy Hall and banjoist Chris Pandolfi — are on the road this spring and are scheduled to perform at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 9, at the Rogue Theatre, 143 S.E. H St., Grants Pass. Tickets cost $15 and may be purchased at www.roguetheatre.com or by calling 541-471-1316.
The band has opened up the bluegrass tradition to showcase its members' musical influences.
Only Garrett comes with a formal bluegrass pedigree, and Hall was originally a shred guitarist, but a bad case of tendonitis forced him to switch to Dobro.
"I didn't grow up listening to Bill Monroe and bluegrass," Falco says. "In fact, I was playing electric guitar and bass and playing Grateful Dead and Creedence Clearwater tunes ... but part of our evolution is letting all our influences come out and being proud of that. It's our musical DNA."
Fans can experience the Stringdusters' live and studio sides on its new, double-disc release, "Silver Sky, Deluxe Edition." The album combines two of its previous recordings — "We'll Do It Live" and the studio-produced "Silver Sky" — in one package, tied together by a fun, casual cut, "He's Gone," by the Grateful Dead.
The 2012 release not only gives people an idea of where the band is at but also showcases the genius of an unlikely partner, hip-hop producer Billy Hume (Ludacris, Nas).
"Billy Hume has been part of our evolution," Falco says. "His energy and his genius. He doesn't have any sort of expectation of what bluegrass is or isn't. He's more like, 'Let's make a great record.' "
The Stringdusters will hit the studio again this summer, but for now they are on the road and loving it. Falco sees music as a vehicle to see the country, meet wonderful people, have adventures and experience cool little restaurants and breweries.
"Our music suits our high-country lifestyle," he says. "We enjoy the outdoors. We do an annual ski tour. We ride mountain bikes and road bikes, and get out and hike and run.
"We all love music, and we all love to play together, but we get outside and do other things as well and ... sometimes we invite fans to come, too."