The Infamous Stringdusters w/David Wax Museum
Ram’s Head Live!, Baltimore, MD
November 19, 2016
Written and Photographed By: Randy Harris
Somehow, over the past five years, The Infamous Stringdusters have eluded me. My first Dusting was at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, CO, in August 2011 as they opened up for Railroad Earth and Yonder Mountain String Band. Since then, I have lived in three different states, and I have not been able to make it out to see them. You can imagine my excitement when the band announced that they would be headlining Baltimore’s Ram’s Head Live! While the Stringdusters had already been together for five years when I last saw them, they have continued to grow and improve since then. Following their work over the past few years has been an absolute joy, and I was ecstatic to have the chance to finally see them live again.
Before the Dusting would commence, however, we were treated to an opening set from David Wax Museum out of Charlottesville, VA. The primary genius behind this band is the now husband and wife combo of David Wax & Suz Slezak. With their family on the road, and the help of an amazing band, these guys bring the heart and soul of Americana to life with sprinkles of many different genres and sub-genres keeping the mix interesting and their fans on their toes. Although their set was short, they definitely made it count, lighting up the stage in preparation for the Dusting to come.
The Stringdusters took the stage to a roar from an eager Baltimore crowd. Stringdusters fans are some of the best in the world. They support an avid community, both in person and online, that focuses purely on the music of this incredible band. They are also incredibly appreciative, and rightfully so. The five-piece string band wasted no time kicking into gear and laid down a beautifully crafted first set. The lighting design was big and bright, which perfectly complimented the band’s vivid stage performance. Not only are these guys great musicians and a great band together, but all five of them are pure showmen. They constantly moved around to get right up in each other’s faces in order to push each other to new heights within their jams. This aspect also provided a great visual experience for the crowd. Even upright bassist Travis Book dragged his massive bass around the stage without ever skipping a beat. Highlights from the first set included a run through “This Ol’ Building,” the first single released off of their forthcoming album release, as well as a harmonic vocal take on Phish’s “Free” before closing the set with “Mountain Town.”
An excited buzz in the air permeated the set break as we waited anxiously for their return to the stage. Again, the band wasted no time in drawing us in upon their return. “End of the Line” into “HC Funk” led the way into a lovely tribute to the beautiful Colorado. And then, the onslaught began… The Stringdusters wound through a blistering cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Jackaroe,” giving each member of the band a chance to lead the jams in between the verses. Each time they returned to that cozy lick, the crowd roared with approval, pushing the band to give us more. The rest of the set was pure bliss as the Stringdusters raged through to the end of the night, leaving an elated Baltimore crowd reeling.
Overall, I cannot say enough good things about this show. Every aspect of the performance was top notch, and The Infamous Stringdusters exceeded every expectation that I had for my first Dusting in over five years. The quintet seems to get better and better all the time, and they have easily become a must-see for any bluegrass fan. The band recently announced the upcoming release of a brand new album, Laws of Gravity, due to be released on January 13, 2017. Head over to their Facebook page for an inside look at the making of the album art, as well as pre-order info, and get ready for their return to the DMV area on January 27 at 9:30 Club!