The Infamous Stringdusters : We’ll Do It Live

When I last put pen to paper to review The Infamous Stringdusters, the band was in a state of flux.  Their 2010 release, Things That Fly, was a sonic departure for the sextet, a bold suggestion that the band refused to be pigeonholed by its traditional bluegrass instrumentation.

Normally, a band that begins with such promise – keep in mind that the Stringdusters won three IBMA awards with their first release in 2007 – sees no need in diverging from a path of obvious success.  But the Stringdusters yearned for a different path.

We’ll Do It Live, the first live release from the band – and the first record on their new record label, High Country Recordings – is proof positive that the ‘Dusters have found that new path. Indeed, it’s a path of their own creation, one they are blazing hell bent and on their own,  ignoring the guard rails and free to choose from countless destinations.

The thirteen tracks that make up We’ll Do It Live were culled from four shows recorded in the spring of 2011. Included in the collection are live renditions of tunes from all three of the band’s studio releases, along with a couple unreleased tracks and some tasty covers by songwriting stalwarts Benny Galloway, Shawn Camp, Danny Barnes, and John Hartford.

We’ll Do It Live shows that the ‘Dusters have commenced to pummeling preconceived notions of what acoustic instruments can do in a live setting; the band’s live shows are now less Bill Monroe and more Bill Nershi, punctuated by extended jams that are now the rule, not the exception.

“Poddin’ up,” as the ‘Dusters call it, has been pivotal in the evolution of the band’s live show. The Stringdusters have abandoned the traditional “six across” stage alignment for a more fluid, dynamic presence. Each band member slides and shuffles, focusing their collective energy on jam sequences, creating cluster plucks and the perfect musical communion between ferocity and virtuosity. The intensity in these jams is palpable throughout the record – take a listen to Andy Hall’s dobro work on “Masquerade,” Andy Falco’s guitar run on “Hitchhiker,” the full band give and take on “Well, Well” and “Echoes of Goodbye,” or the stratospheric crescendo in “No More To Leave You Behind,” and you can virtually see the boys poddin’ up to tear it down.

Give We’ll Do It Live a spin – you’ll soon realize that when The Infamous Stringdusters do it live, there are few who do it better.

We’ll Do It Live is out now on High Country Recordings.