What’s A Stringduster, And Why Is It Infamous? The Legendary Bluegrass Band Explains

April 5, 2019
Photo: Chris Pandolfi Andy Hall Infamous StringdustersHart Van Denburg/CPR News
Chris Pandolfi, left, and Andy Hall of the Infamous Stringdusters, photographed in Denver March 18, 2019.

They're a Colorado band known for their wild name and wilder live shows: the Infamous Stringdusters.

The Grammy-winning Colorado bluegrass group's new album, "Rise Sun," is out Friday. The band has a busy spring tour schedule planned, including a date at Red Rocks on May 29.

Band co-founders Andy Hall and Chris Pandolfi talked to Colorado Matters about the album's positive message, tour life and what's in the name.

Interview Highlights

On the new album's positive message and the band's uplifting live shows:

AH: "We’ve tended toward this really uplifting kind of vibe with these songs. There’s still a few sad relationship songs, ‘maybe things aren’t going great,’ but a lot of the message of this record is an uplifting, kind of hopeful energy. That’s just something we shoot for, that’s something that makes us feel good. It’s something we shoot for in our own relationships within the band. So we end up writing about it."

CP: "It’s also another way I think it connects to the show. The show is designed to uplift people. If we did our job, people leave the show feeling that sense of community, that connection to us, that connection to each other. If the album worked, maybe it will create that thing too"

On the joys and experimentation that come with being on the road:

CP: "We go on tour usually for the first four months of the year. That’s just when we got the full crew, same thing night after night, two sets, five shows a week. And we just get tight. That’s when [we] really evolve the most. And then we carry what we’ve been able to experiment with that part of the year into festival season and the big shows of the summer. There’s so much experimentation night after night. It’s really just an exciting time to see things evolve and come to life."

On why the band loves performing in Colorado:

AH: "Three of us have all found our way to Colorado, a place that was really formative early on in the band when we just trying to figure out what we were and what to do. Our bass player actually, who doesn’t live here now, was originally from Colorado and he knew a few people. We would just drive out here and played a few little coffee shops type things and a house concert.

It is where we really found that the fans like to dance, stand up and dance. We were kind of in the southeast bluegrass scene where people are sitting and listening.That’s great, but when we came here we found people dancing and being really emotive. We fell in love with that vibe."

On the backstory behind that name:

CP: "The name comes from Ben Eldridge, the banjo player for the legendary Seldom Scene. We were consulting with him early on and he threw the name out. It was so hard to find a name. We had this list that still exists somewhere on paper, and everything was taken. We fished around and at Ben’s recommendation we were the Stringdusters. And then when we found out that name was taken, we became the Infamous Stringdusters."

AH: "We never have run across them."

AH: "[I think a stringduster is] someone who is a hot picker, someone who can really pick hot and dust those strings."

CP: "The infamous part you gotta earn."