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Stringdusters build their infamy

A review of the Infamous Stringdusters at the Pour House



The Infamous Stringdusters w/ James Justin and Co.
The Pour House
May 20

If you're going to jam, do it well. The Infamous Stringdusters have certainly earned the right to take an extra lap around a chord progression. At the Pour House on Sunday night, each of the five members demonstrated a precise mastery of their instrument. Fiddler Jeremy Garrett deservedly held down center stage, but the dobro licks of Andy Hall demonstrated a rare mastery of that instrument, nearly on par with living legend Jerry Douglas.

From their first moments on stage, the band clearly came to have fun. With their New Belgium Shift and Sam Adams beers lined up behind each of their five microphones before they emerged from backstage, the quintet treated the gig like a big Saturday night, interacting with each other and jumping around with mannerisms fit for a rock band.

Fortunately for bluegrass purists, the sound was solely acoustic. A crowd of about 200 filled the room, showing appreciation (and showing up early) for hometown openers James Justin & Co, who kicked off their set promptly at 8:30 p.m. Drawing on tunes from their forthcoming third release, Places, the group aptly set the stage for the headliner.

The Stringdusters are clearly music geeks, each individually obsessed with their own instrument of choice. Banjo player Chris Pandolfi often becomes so enthralled in his solos that his mouth hangs open with eyes closed, almost in seeming disbelief of his own rapid-fire finger rolls.

Throughout the evening, the group wisely placed covers like "Here Comes the Sun" and "Up on Cripple Creek" into the set, inspiring sing-alongs that kept the crowd engaged. They were at their best, however, when they dropped into lightning rounds of campfire-style improvisation, taking turns letting their own jaws (and those of the audience) hit the floor.

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