Before starting the Infamous Stringdusters nearly 10 years ago in Nashville, the group members had decidedly different musical ambitions.
"Most of us didn't grow up playing bluegrass," says dobro player Andy Hall, who meet banjo player Chris Pandoifi at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. "We grew up listening to and playing rock in different forms, Grateful Dead stuff or blues. So early on we spent a lot of time developing our bluegrass sort of chops and worked on becoming the best bluegrass musicians we can be.
"But as we sort of progressed or traveled on our way, we started letting those original influences come back in and went from playing more traditional bluegrass scenes to playing at general music festivals and rock clubs and just broadened our horizons to include where we started."
Hall and company have pushed their bluegrass boundaries over the course of six albums (they'll start recording a seventh this summer), even working with hiop-hop producer Billy Hume on 2012's "Silver Sky." The group also launched its own annual festival, the Feisty Experience in Virginia, during 2010. Taking a broad view of the music can be polarizing, Hall acknowledges, but he's confident the group has gained more than its lost over the years.
"We have way more fans than we used to," says Hall, 40. "There's a small section of people that really want to listen to just traditional bluegrass, but I think most of them probably still appreciate us and have been along for the ride of us sort of evolving as a band..
"I'm sure we've lost maybe a few fans from the beginning; when we started playing these eight-minute jam songs at traditional bluegrass festivals it didn't take long for them to quit hiring us. But I think we've certainly continued to gain fans and exposure, and I think most people who liked us in the beginning still like us."