The Infamous Stringdusters bring bluegrass trio to Vilar Center’s Residency program |

The Infamous Stringdusters bring bluegrass trio to Vilar Center’s Residency program

By Kimberly Nicoletti
Special to the Daily

Since bluegrass is relatively new — originating in the 1940s — there are still a lot of fans who are purists. But The Infamous Trio lies on the opposite end of that spectrum.

“Bluegrass traditionalists have a regimented idea,” said banjo player Chris Pandolfi. “People new to bluegrass have an open-minded approach. The music is really alive and evolving right now.”

Pandolfi will perform at the Vilar, in The Residency program as the Infamous Trio with Andy Hall and Jeremy Garett. Shows are at 5 & 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 26; 5 & 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 27; and a free livestream of the 8 p.m. show on Feb. 26 can be accessed through FANS.LIVE or VPAC YouTube channel

The Infamous Trio is born from The Infamous Stringdusters, which debuted nationally in 2007 and earned three International Bluegrass Music Association awards.

“There are a lot of opinions on what bluegrass should and shouldn’t be, yet the progressive side is reaching more fans,” Pandolfi said.

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Hall, a vocalist and master of the dobro, most recently scored a nomination for a 2020 International Bluegrass Music award as best resophonic guitar player. Garrett brings innovative fiddle playing to the stage, as well as an expressive voice and soul-searching lyrics. To fans, he’s known as “G-Grass” or “Freedom Cobra,” due to his dynamic stage presence.

Pandolfi is a producer, podcaster and writer who spent his 2020 downtime cranking out a fusion record, “Trance Banjo,” which he just released.

“When people think of the banjo, they think of country and bluegrass,” he said. “I’m trying to recontextualize the banjo and bring it to a new acoustic world … I’m adding vinyl samples and a combination of beats, synthesizers, strings and old sounds. The goal is to bring old sounds together with futuristic sounds.”

The Infamous Stringdusters started in Nashville, where they surrounded themselves with “real heavy virtuosic musicians.”

“That is the experience and education of a lifetime,” Pandolfi said. “It sets the bar really, really high in terms of musicianship and the craft.”

The trio moved to Colorado about eight years ago because of its vibrant bluegrass scene, as well as the quality of life.

“Colorado has become a Mecca of music fans,” he said. “Bluegrass is something they have really embraced.”

While the trio honed their musicianship in Nashville, they learned to truly connect with large audiences in Colorado, which Pandolfi said is another skill set.

They plan to perform new tunes they wrote last year, as well as a variety of songs from the Dusters’ catalogue at the Vilar Center: an “expressive patchwork of All-American bluegrass threaded together with strands of rock, jazz, funk, country, old-time and more.”

“We try to make the best music with the best tools we have, and whatever comes out is Stringdusters’ music,” he said. “It’s like any band; it’s all about the songs. … We just want to share that good energy with the audience.”

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