Silver Sky

A few years ago, I interviewed guitarist and vocalist Andy Falco after the Stringdusters finished an exuberant set at the High Sierra Music Festival up in Quincy. He was flush with the crowd’s approval, still high from the joy of performing, and it made me envious of the emotions that were so obviously coursing through him. Since that glorious July day back in 2010, the band’s gone from a sextet to a quintet, losing one of its founding members and mandolin player, Jesse Cobb. On this first release on their own label they’re still bubbling over with creative energy, extending the parameters of the “newgrass” genre as they go. Stringduster fans are known to be avid, and they will be reassured by this album that the band they love hasn’t suffered from the changes, a fact made clear from the first notes of the first track, “Don’t Mean Nothin'.” And “Tears of the Earth” takes the traditional bluegrass form and uses it to make an eloquent environmental statement. As much as anything else, however, the reason to listen to The Infamous Stringdusters is the players’ chops. Bluegrass, in whatever form, is all about the pickin', and these guys are dyed-in-the-wool pickers who are, no doubt, making the recently departed Earl Scruggs smile in his new home up yonder.