Stringdusters at Harborfest

The Infamous Stringdusters played this past Saturday at Harborfest in Norfolk, VA. We had a crew on hand to cover the event. Woody Edwards shot this photo essay, and Liz Boatwright and Seth Edwards shared their impressions of the show.

Thousands swarmed the waterfront in historic downtown Norfolk for the annual display of tall ships, food, and music known as Harborfest. After a couple tasty crab snacks and more sailors dancing than I needed to see, I watched with interest as The Infamous Stringdusters came to the stage – to the delight of the masses that gathered down front.

The ‘Dusters took Norfolk by storm on a beautiful, sunny Saturday afternoon, where tall ships and the storied Elizabeth River served as the back drop for the 36th annual Harborfest. After minor tuning and adjustments, the Stringdusters launched into an action-packed bluegrass ragefest.

Starting off with a few original tunes, the guys showed off their unique blend of hot pickin’ mixed with extended jams. An excitable group of twenty-somethings took over in front of the stage and the group seemed to feed off of their frenzied dancing. The band danced around the stage in kind, trading sharp solos effortlessly, and worked up a sweat to where guitarist Andy Falco yelled “it’s a Stringduster broilfest up here!” before dropping down to a wife beater. This fashion statement was only eclipsed by the electric pink socks that screamed out with his every step. The show worked its way up to a cover of Bill Monroe’s classic Uncle Pen, that had the whole crowd clapping and dancing.

It’s their combination of bluegrass traditions mixed with exactly the right amount of jam that sets these guys apart. Band members migrate around the stage, trading solos and punctuating each others’ musical sentences throughout.

The set was a solid mingling of originals peppered with covers. Their originals are playful and interesting, and the covers both clever and serious in turn. They even dropped a really fun Here Comes The Sun along the way.

Simply put: this show was a party, similar to the feeling of a Yonder Mountain String Band or Keller Williams show. If you manage to have a bad time at a Stringduster show… you may want to reevaluate your life. I’m already looking forward to catching the guys at their Festy Experience in Nelson County, VA (October 5-7), and recommend any other bluegrass fans in Virginia make the trip out there as well.

After the show, Bluegrass Today was lucky enough to snag an interview with Andy Falco (on a tugboat converted into a sailboat called the Norfolk Rebel of all places), so be sure to look for that coming up soon.