Down Home with the Stringdusters

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The Infamous Stringdusters
The Down Home
Johnson City, Tennessee
January 30, 2009

A sold out crowd inside the worn timber walls of the Down Home in Johnson City, Tennessee, witnessed The Infamous Stringdusters bring the good wood on Friday, January 30th.

After a brief respite from the road, the award-winning sextet fired up their strings and ripped through two sets of tested standards and soon-to-be crowd favorites. The shared smiles and banter between the various ‘Dusters made it obvious that the band was happy to be back onstage following their downtime, and this revered Northeast Tennessee music hall was the perfect venue for the guys to dust off their instruments. “The Down Home has a great welcoming vibe,” said resonator guitar player Andy Hall, “and the crowd knows its music. They really show you when they like what you’re doing.”

IMG_5472.jpg Bass player Travis Book echoed Hall’s sentiments.  “We love the Down Home," he said.  “There’s a lot of history, a lot of good times had. It’s kinda like playing inside an old Martin D-28.”

That sense of comfort filtered over to the audience, as well. Though is was a sit-down crowd, there was very much a stand-up vibe; listeners greeted frenzied solos with raucous yells and applause, and it often felt as if a hoedown was poised to break out within the Down Home’s tight confines.

Notable moments from the first set included the scorching instrumental “Black Rock,” fiddler Jeremy Garrett’s “Starry Night,” and set closer “Well, Well,” a bluesy Andy Hall number that features stunning work by guitarist Andy Falco.

The second set kicked off with the new Travis Book tune “Likes of Me,” Jesse Cobb wore his mandolin out during “Pronto,” and bassist Book’s take on Nashville songwriter Shawn Camp’s “Travelin’ Teardrop Blues” was, as always, a hit.

The highlight of the evening, though, was actually born backstage during a pre-show jam.  Said Falco, ”We were going to warm up on Bill Monroe’s ‘Brown County Breakdown’ and I threw a funky, James Brown style rhythm to it. We jammed it for a bit and laughed about what Andy Hall called the ‘James Brown County Breakdown.’ Next thing I know, it’s on the setlist.”  This impromptu, almost accidental song will soon be a staple, and a favorite, on future Stringduster setlists.  “JBCB” is absolutely funky, and there should be no doubt that the band will continue to stretch it out into uncharted territory with each playing.

The band left the crowd at the Down Home satisfied. Bill Horne, of Wise, Virginia, had high praise for the show. “This was a typical show from our favorite band – fantastic playing and improvisation. I’m already looking forward to when I can see them again.”

And the ‘Dusters themselves were looking forward to a return to the Down Home. “It’s one of those venues that brings out the best in the band,” said banjo player Chris Pandolfi. “The listeners know how to have a good time at a show. I hope we always get to play gigs like that.”

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