A collective of five musicians who each left successful slots in various touring bands, the Stringdusters, are essentially a supergroup. The band exploded onto the world in 2007 with critical acclaim, multiple IBMA awards and a record deal with venerable bluegrass label Sugar Hill. Hundreds of shows later, the band is on a trajectory as one of the fastest growing acoustic bands in the country, creating their own record label, successful music festival, and unique business model in the process.
The Infamous Stringdusters' Silver Sky marks a period of massive change and growth within the band, as well as explosive growth to audiences around the country. This transition is audible on Silver Sky, with many novel approaches for the band including some alternative instrumentation (keys, horns, drums), a new producer, and the move to a five-piece band.
Since their last release, We'll Do It Live, the acoustic string band has been moving away from their bluegrass beginnings, towards an eclectic, genre-less sound that powers their high-energy live performances. A key catalyst for this change is the Stringduster's first outside-the-genre producer, Billy Hume, known more for his work in hip-hop (Nas, David Banner, Ludacris). Guitarist, Andy Falco comments, "Working with Billy has been simply amazing. 'Human Being' (his Stringduster nickname) has been able to bring out yet another dimension to The Infamous Stringdusters' music in the studio with his endless creative ideas, outside the box thinking and powerful mixes."
Another major move has been going from a six-piece band to a five-piece (parting ways with founding mandolin player, Jesse Cobb). This has freed the band members to play more, to fill in the gaps without constriction of the mandolin's traditional place emphasizing the rhythm. These two elements have lead to a looser and more energetic band on stage, in the studio and carried over to their business. Bringing more decisions and partners in-house, The Stringdusters recently formed their own record label, High Country Recordings, and have appealed to their growing fan base to help support their efforts. A newly-launched Pledge campaign offers the chance to invest in the band and gain some pretty cool experiences in return, such as dedicated songs from the stage, or live-video Skyping to a Stringdusters rehearsal session.
The early success of this campaign is a sure sign that the band is connecting with fans in the right way. Banjo player Chris Pandolfi noted, "Our fans are our friends. They're as much a part of creating the experience as we are. It's all about working together to make something awesome."
And it's this positive outlook that informs the album's title, when asked what Silver Sky means to Travis Book, "The song's about the potential of youth and the blossoming of the human spirit, inspired by a group of young musicians in Boston. This is a heavy time in the history of our country and our planet, change is in the air, but this is our time, our opportunity to do great things and experience life while we are alive. We can be and do whatever we want, the range of potential experiences is like no other time in history. Like a rocket streaking through a silver sky toward endless space, there's almost limitless potential. That's what we're feeling as a group and what we've become about."
The Stringdusters are planning the third year of their own music festival, The Festy Experience, already heralded as a "cant-miss" event by regional press and 'Duster fans.