The Infamous Stringdusters emerged from Nashville in 2006 and haven't stopped since. But even by its own hard-working standards, 2017 was a banner year for the quintet.
During the year the Stringdusters cranked out a new studio album -- "Laws of Gravity," which won the Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album -- and a "Laws of Gravity: Live!" set. It also put out "Undercover Vol. 2," an EP featuring the group's versions of songs by the Cure, the Allman Brothers Band, Daft Punk, Marvin Gaye and more. All of this while continuing a heavy touring schedule of concerts and festivals.
And, according to banjoist Chris Pandolfi, there's also more to come in the very near future...
• The Stringdusters' productive 2017 was a product of "trying to crank out as much studio music as possible amidst a business that's based primarily on touring," according to Pandolfi. "We're very prolific; All five of us write and are sort of producers in our own sense, so we're trying to just keep a steady stream of things rolling, and that includes recording and touring and just all aspects of being a band -- and also accommodating the creative needs of five different people who obviously have a lot of common threads but also have a lot of differences as well."
• The Stringdusters have completed a follow-up to "Laws of Gravity" for release next year, and Pandolfi, 39, says by phone that a third "Undercover" EP is likely at some point as well. "We're definitely thinking about the next 'Undercover.' The way those take shape is because we play so much live, and when it's time to do an 'Undercover' we grab a handful of covers that have been working well in the show. We love to write songs and play our original music, and that's the very core of the mission of the band. But we also love a lot of different kind of music, so reinventing those songs we love in a bluegrass or acoustic form is a big part of who they are, too. They're a great sort of foil to the studio albums, just another part of the band."
• The Stringdusters' liberal approach to bluegrass has helped to advance and contemporize the genre -- but not without some resistance. "There are more purists in the bluegrass world than you can ever imagine," Pandolfi says. "You can't fault them, because they really just love the music. But in the way we approach even the more progressive stuff, we try to preserve a lot of the traditional things. I play banjo in a style derivative of Earl Scruggs, even if I'm playing a song written by Daft Punk. We think there's room for all that stuff. The traditional world will always be more opinionated, but over the course of our career we've gotten much more comfortable with that, and it's not a daunting thing like it once was."
The Infamous Stringdusters perform at 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8, at the Flagstar Strand Theatre, 12 N. Saginaw St., Pontiac. $25 and $20. 248-309-6448 or visit flagstarstrandtheatrepontiac.com.
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