Nashville's premiere jamgrassers The Infamous Stringdusters soared into Saxapahaw, NC, transforming the Haw River Ballroom in this quaint and subdued village into a blazing scene of barnstorming bluegrass. Hot on the heels of their Grammy award for Best Bluegrass Album for 2017's "Laws of Gravity", they've just released a brand new album of thrilling and dynamic tunes called "Rise Sun." Opening up was hometown hero Jon Stickley, whose astounding Asheville-based Trio blazes forth a boundaryless and bejeweled vision of acoustic music, imagining new possibilities and soundscapes with each composition. Acoustic guitar, violin & drums intertwine with effortless grace, belying the breathtaking musicality lurking just below the surface.
The Stringdusters set sail with the traditional and soulful harmonies of "Once You're Gone," followed by the expansive and inspirational "Thunder" off their new album. The picking party of "How Far I'd Fall For You" led into the first cover of the evening, Bob Dylan's timeless "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right". Two more songs from the new album followed - "Last of the Lucky Ones" and "Carry Me Away" - before Danny Barnes' passionate "Get it While You Can" flowed into the elastic energy of "Machines" to cap off the first set.
They re-lit the spark after intermission with the new record's "If You're Gonna Love Someone", followed by "17 Cents" flowing into "Rain" and "Porcupine Cove". Opener Jon Stickley then joined in an electrifying extended version of "Deep Elem Blues," decomposing the traditional tune into a hair-raising guitar duo. "By My Side" led into "Tragic Life" and a frisky rendition of The Grateful Dead's "Jack Straw", featuring a positively scorching dobro solo. The catchy harmonies of "Let it Go" were followed by the funky bounce of "I Run to You" to wrap up the set. A thunderous outpouring of applause brought them back to encore "Rise Sun", the title track to their new album, offering a ray of hope and a call to action: "We've been hoping there's a new day coming / And it is not promised, but it's all we know."
Listen to the show here. Thanks to Rusty Phipps for taping!
- Paul Kerr
- Photos by Todd E. Gaul, www.photophile.com