In Nashville, the music and fun never stop. After spending the evening before playing in St. Louis, the Infamous Stringdusters made their way to the city where it all began for them on Thursday. A mixed crowd of concert-goers in their 20’s to 50’s generously dressed in green entered the Exit/In for a night of jamgrass. The smaller, intimate venue holds about 500 people max with an open floor area, limited seating upstairs, and a bar area on the main floor.
At 8 p.m. sharp the opener, Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers, took the stage. The band hails from the bay area and has a California sound born of country, folk, rock, soul, and psychedelia. The band consists of Nicki Bluhm (singer), Deren Ney (lead guitar), Steve Adams (bass guitar), Dave Mulligan (rhythm guitar), and Mike Curry (drums). On stage, Nicki and the Gramblers played several songs from their latest album “Loved While Lost” which was released in April 2015. The band covered “Piece of my heart”, by Janis Joplin, and the audience couldn’t help but sing and dance along to the classic. After getting the crowd moving, they played one more song, then left the stage after their 45 minute set.
During the break between bands, the audience mingled in excitement for the next set and prepped for the show with fresh drinks. The Infamous Stringdusters sound engineer Drew Becker ran around the stage setting up stands, connecting cords, and testing the microphones while tour manager Katrina Hennigar set up fans, taped the set lists down at each stand, and got the band’s drinks ready before the set.
Around 9:15 the Infamous Stringdusters came out on stage, all of them in button-down shirts. Looking at the stage you see Andy Falco (guitar) stands the farthest left, then Travis Book (bass), Jeremy Garrett (violin), Andy Hall (dobro), and Chris Pandolfi (banjo), all of them in position, tuning their instruments while the audience welcomed them with cheer.
The band opened with an upbeat “Once You’re Gone” then played “Light and Love” and “Rivers Run Cold” both high energy songs with sections of full-on jamming. During the jams, as each instrument is highlighted, the other members of the band circle around, feeding into the energy. Next up was the ‘Dusters fun, classic “Get it While you Can” which got the crowd singing along, “I like your biscuits in my gravy ma’am, before the stores are closed get it while you can.” After the crowd settled, Book talked about the band’s latest album “Ladies and Gentlemen” which was released in early February and features different female vocalists on each song. He introduced a guest singer, Lindsey Lou and claimed that the only reason she wasn’t on the album was because they didn’t know her yet. In a flowing white blouse, high-waist bellbottoms, and with naturally curly long brown hair Lou joined for one song, singing “Old Whiskey Bottle” off the ‘Dusters album. Next the guys played their cover of U2’s “In God’s Country”, then Falco sang “Peace of Mind” which went into the “Cissy Strut” then back to the end of “Peace.” The audience was full of energy and when the following song, “Sirens” –a fast paced instrumental- was performed no one could resist moving to the music and occasionally shouting out in excitement. Book sang “All the Same” next, then invited Nicki Bluhm onto the stage. She appeared in a long sleek green dress, perfect for the holiday, and a long beaded necklace. She sang “Run to Heaven” a gritty country-bluegrass song from their new album. The first set ended with the band and Bluhm covering Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody to Love.” The bluegrass flare added to the classic was fun for the crowd to singalong and move to the strong banjo sounds. When the song finished around 10:15 p.m., Book announced they would be taking a short break and coming back out for a second set.
The break was good for moving, stretching and refueling the crowd and lasted about 25 minutes. The boys came back out starting strong with “Big River” then “Old Chuck Hen.” Garrett announced his two sisters were at the show and dedicated “Night on the River” to them. They jammed out to that song and continued with “Well Well.” Bluhm rejoined the band for three more songs, “Listen” and “See How Far” from the album and an “Amarillo” cover. Book dedicated “The Places I’ve Been” to his wife, who was in the audience. They kept pickin’ and the audience kept moving to “Space”, “Highwayman”, and “Blackrock.” Next they unplugged and performed the soulful “Let it Go” acoustic. “Seventeen cents” another fun song followed, then a last jam to “Rain.” For the last song, the ‘Dusters, Bluhm and the Gramblers all took stage and performed “Little Too Late.” The crowd went wild as the musicians bowed and left stage chanting, “once more song!” The ‘Dusters reappeared with Bluhm and they played “Not Fade Away” for the finale.
The night in Nashville was a high-energy, positive, and fun experience. After personally seeing the ‘Dusters about a dozen times, their shows just keep getting better. If you want to go see an extremely talented, high energy band, go see the Infamous Stringdusters.