MusicMarauders Presents: The Infamous Stringdusters & Members of Railroad Earth 9.13.13

Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
Denver, CO

Words & Photos By Kevin Hahn (Split Open & Melt Photography)

Once again I found myself getting ready to rage the night away while listening to one of my favorite bands do their “thing” at Cervantes this past Friday the 13th. For a date known to the masses as one filled with bad-luck, broken mirrors, and black cats this was a Friday the 13th to remember forever as the Infamous Stringdusters were ready to shred the shadow of this date into our distant memories. Also making this show even more unique was the fact that Lotus had cancelled their Red Rocks appearance that night due to the extreme danger associated with the crazy thunderstorms Colorado endured over that weekend. And holy moly was Cervantes ripping and roaring! Packed to the gills, Cervantes was the perfect place for us Coloradans to come in from the insane weather and dry our bodies off with some good ole bluegrass. And boy, did the Duster’s come ready to party.

“Traveling Teardrop Blues” brought Cervantes to a raging start, as the Duster’s kicked off their Friday the 13th show with a phenomenal cover of the Del McCoury classic. Bassist Travis Book used his soul-soothing vocals to bring a youthful energy to this legendary song, and then the first notes of the JJ Cale song “After Midnight” started echoing through the speakers. Cervantes exploded with excitement as Travis once again took lead vocals on this truly badass cover sandwich of sorts, and when the final verse of “Traveling Teardrop Blues” gave the audience their first chance to applaud a standing ovation ensued. (What an absolutely crazy and unique as all hell way to start off a bluegrass extravaganza.) The Duster originals “In God’s Country”, “Peace of Mind”, and “Night on the River” followed the cover-song sandwich, and were played to their common level of preciseness. “Like I Do”, “Rivers Run Cold” and “Well Well” were also heard during this set, but the real highlights for me were the spot-on, Duster-style renditions of the cover songs they chose to play. The Grateful Dead classic “He’s Gone” led into the set-closing “Well Well”, and wow do the Duster’s do this cover justice. Five band members, all in perfect vocal harmony paying tribute to anyone who might not still be with us. This was truly a perfect way to end a very energetic start to the evening.

Set One: Traveling Teardrop Blues > After Midnight > Traveling Teardrop Blues, In God’s Country, Peace of Mind, Night on the River, Like I Do, Rivers Run Cold, He’s Gone, Well Well

Set Two: Home, Get It While You Can, No More To Leave You Behind, 17 Cents, Don’t Think Twice, Metal, Machines, High On The Mountaintop*, Angeline The Baker*, Steam Powered Aereoplane*, Summercamp, Fork in the Road, Let It Go, Up On Cripple Creek

Encore: Blackrock

*With Tim Carbone, Andy Goessling, and John Skehan from Railroad Earth

Set Two of the Dusters' Friday the 13th show was full of Duster originals, guest appearances, and again a great array of beautifully played cover songs. Songs such as “Get It While You Can”, “Machines”, “Fork in the Road”, and “Summercamp” have become Duster staples and the Cervantes crowd ate every last bit of them up. But the real treat for us Denver music lovers was when members of the opening band, The Hackensaw Boys joined the Duster’s for a couple of amazing jammed out bluegrass numbers. Railroad Earth members Tim Carbone, Andy Goessling, and John Skehan were the three extraordinary additions to the already stellar quintet and wow was this combo HOT! “High on the Mountaintop” came first with Tim Carbone and Duster fiddle maestro Jeremy Garrett trading insane licks until I honestly thought Carbone was going to pass out from smiling so much. As Carbone is one of my all-time favorite musicians to watch on stage, it made for a great dynamic between the non-stop moving Dusters and the wise veteran of the bluegrass scene. “Angeline the Baker” was next and led to Goessling and Skehan joining the jamgrass festivities with their acoustic guitar and mandolin to boot. “Angeline” was written way back in 1834 to be played for folky occasions, but with dobro player Andy Hall leading the charge “Angeline” seemed to have a bit of a “Dusty Step” to her this time around. Using Skehan as his lick-trading partner, Hall ripped through chord progressions with vigor and as always smiled his way through it. The ever classic and always crowd-pleasing “Steam Power Aereoplane” finished the “Infamous Earth” collaboration with a raucous ovation, and the Denver music lovers knew just how special those three songs just were.

What happens when you put five extremely talented individuals together, and encourage them to create whatever musical masterpiece comes into their collective minds? Is it possible when forming this group of musical magicians that they themselves knew just how tight and talented they would sound? Would their quick ascent through the ranks of the bluegrass genre cripple their want to improvise and want to keep improving on the steady sound they already possess? Could they really just be that damn good? I find myself questioning everything I know or thought I knew about music when it comes to the incredible group of musicians, which we in the music scene have come to know as The Infamous Stringdusters. Yes, this is my third article referring to the amazingness that has come to be called “Gettin Dusted” and this will be my final review of this band for the time being. Honestly, I am running out of synonyms for the words “Awesome, incredible, uber-talented” because there is not one bad thing I can say about this group. But more importantly, I have said what I needed to say and truly believe I have given everything I have (Word-wise) to this band. If this article and the one’s previous to it have not convinced you to seek out the musical beauty these men create, I honestly cannot say anymore.

There is not a band that possesses the excitement and drive to perform on a nightly basis like the Dusters. There is not a bluegrass group (at least of what I know of) who can incorporate the theory of “Jamming” so intricately within the confines of what traditional bluegrass is supposed to sound like. If you know of a group that has more fun playing with each other on stage let me know. If you can find a musical quintet who just doesn’t seem to make mistakes, bring them on. I challenge all who read this to go out and find groups who bring as much to the table as the Dusters do, because I honestly believe it would be quite a hard task. To say that my excitement for the upcoming Boulder Theater shows in December is growing might be the understatement of the century. Us Coloradans are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to see these boys rip it up in one of the nicest music venues our country has to offer, and I highly recommend all take full advantage of this. It will not be long before we see The Infamous Stringdusters headlining the likes of Red Rocks, the Gorge, and various other massive outdoor venues. I just hope my non-stop encouraging to see them will allow you to witness their incredible talents in any way possible. Because as always, I promise you will not be disappointed.

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