Trail Mix – The Infamous Stringdusters

Though The Infamous Stringdusters formed over a decade ago on the East Coast, I believe the heart of the band beats in the mountains of Colorado.

Three Dusters – Chris Pandolfi, Andy Hall, and Jeremy Garrett – now live in the Rocky Mountain State and bass player Travis Book was born and raised there.

The Infamous Stringdusters have long played to crowds in Colorado, and I have spoken at length with the band about the magic that takes place whenever they take the stage there. It should come as no surprise, then, that the band’s new live record was recorded in Telluride. The new twenty track collection, which dropped last month, was recorded during the band’s appearance at last summer’s Telluride Bluegrass Festival and features tunes spanning their twelve year career.

Live From Telluride confirms that a dusting takes place best when you’re a mile high.

I recently caught up with Travis Book to chat about playing live in Colorado, Christmas traditions, winter time cycling habits, and the band’s new adventure in owning a record label.

BRO – Winter time is upon us. Where can I find you on your bike after the weather turns cold?

TB – I’ll ride the mountain bike up in Pisgah down to around 25 degrees. If it’s too wet in the forest – and it’s a rain forest here in Brevard, so it usually is – I’ll ride the road bike or the gravel bike, but only down to about 40 degrees. Below that, I ride the rollers and watch UCI Cyclocross replays.

BRO – We are featuring “Tennessee Jed” from the new Live From Telluride record on this month’s Trail Mix. Is there a special energy you and the band get when playing Colorado?

TB – I think there’s a special energy every band gets whey they play in Telluride. Last year, I was calling it “The Telluride Effect,” where you roll into that valley and immediately feel lighter and younger and by the end of that monster weekend, after all the sun, altitude, short nights, mind-blowing music, and whatever else it is you’re doing to get “high” or achieve a heightened state, you roll outta there looking and feeling like you’ve aged two decades.

BRO – The band is venturing out with its own label, Tape Time Records. The label has signed Meadow Mountain and Horseshoes & Hand Grenades and you have your own record on tap for the spring. What was it about these two bands that inspired you to bring them into the fold?

TB – We come into contact with a lot of bands whose musical Venn Diagram overlaps with ours. There’s not a lot of options for bands like Meadow Mountain or Horseshoes & Hand Grenades when it comes to putting out a record. Major labels aren’t interested, traditionally folk or acoustic labels may be interested, but there’s not a lot of understanding of what the band is trying to do. We’ve been at this a little while, and we’ll be at it a while longer, and we realized there was an opportunity to try to raise the tide to raise all boats, turn more people on to this scene, and help bands we like and believe in. Horseshoes & Hand Grenads have been good friends for years, and our banjo player, Chris Pandolfi, produced the new Meadow Mountain record, so the fit was obvious.

BRO – What’s the biggest challenge, or the biggest reward, in running a label?

TB – You’d have to ask someone who’s running one! But I can guess its keeping from losing money or getting everyone to a place where they feel like the partnership is mutually beneficial.

BRO – I know you and Sarah have a couple little ones roaming the house these days. Favorite Christmas tradition with the kids?

TB – Either the day after Thanksgiving or the first Saturday we have free in December, we get out the Christmas boxes and pull everything out and dress up the house and the tree and listen to Christmas music, specifically Vince Guaraldi, make food, and get the Season going.

Travis and his mates in The Infamous Stringdusters hit the stage tonight and tomorrow in Vermont before taking a couple weeks off for the holidays. After that the band will ring in the new year with a four night bluegrass blow out run in  – you guessed it!! – Colorado.

For more information on the Dusters’ tour schedule or how you can get yourself a dose of “The Telluride Effect” by grabbing a copy of Live From Telluride, swing by the band’s website. Also, check out what’s going on at Tape Time Records, the band’s new label, by visiting often.

Be sure to listen to the Dusters’ cover of the Grateful Dead classic “Tennessee Jed,” along with new tracks from Daniel Romano, Pale Mara, Jamie Lin Wilson and many more on this month’s Trail Mix. And stay tuned to the Trail Mix blog next week, as I’ll be catching up with Meadow Mountain to chat about their new record.