Tag Archives: Andy Falco

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The Infamous Stringdusters – The Bowery Ballroom – March 31, 2016

April 1st, 2016

The Infamous Stringdusters featuring Nicki Bluhm - The Bowery Ballroom - March 31, 2016

Photos courtesy of Marc Millman Photography | www.marcmillmanphotos.com/music

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Two Nights of the Infamous Stringdusters with Nicki Bluhm This Week

March 30th, 2016

The Infamous Stringdusters, those noted purveyors of groove-friendly bluegrass, formed in 2006. According to PopMatters, they “take traditional bluegrass and old-timey music and use it as a launching pad to explore other, more improvisational, free-flowing forms.” And while the band’s lineup hasn’t been exactly free flowing, there have been a few personnel changes over the ensuing years: Guitarist Andy Falco joined when Chris Eldridge departed to join Punch Brothers, and several years later, the man on the mandolin, Jesse Cobb, left the band. But Travis Book (upright bass), Jeremy Garrett (fiddle), Andy Hall (dobro) and Chris Pandolfi (banjo) have all been around since the start. Their newest studio album, Ladies & Gentlemen (stream it below), arrived last month, and it finds the five-piece backing a variety of women singers. “The concept of male artists or bands who record albums with a variety of female singers isn’t new or unique,” opined American Songwriter. “But that doesn’t mean it’s played out or hackneyed either, especially when it’s delivered with as much class, restraint and enthusiasm as it is here…. The end product feels natural, unforced and even at times humble, making this appropriately titled sixth Stringdusters album yet another successful effort that moves the act beyond its string roots while keeping their collective feet planted in them.” One of the LP’s guests, acclaimed singer-songwriter Nicki Bluhm, joins the Stringdusters (above, performing “Still the One” live at Jam in the Van’s Los Angeles headquarters) on tour, and they come to New York City for a pair of dates, tonight and tomorrow at The Bowery Ballroom.

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The Bowery Ballroom Gets Hit by a Force of Nature

August 31st, 2015

Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers – The Bowery Ballroom – August 28, 2015

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The giant image of a clearing in the woods—echoing the album cover of Nicki Bluhm’s new LP, Loved Wild Lost—that hung at the back of the stage on Friday night added a touch of mystery to The Bowery Ballroom. But there was nothing mysterious about Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers’ appeal as they easily won over the crowd with a high-energy performance of originals and covers. Before they took the stage, Andrew Combs offered an excellent opening set of country music unleashed. Playing songs like “Slow Road to Jesus” and “Suwannee County” off his new album, All These Dreams, Combs and his band mixed harmonies and groovy playing to get the audience warmed up and then some.

Afterward, Bluhm followed her bandmates onstage, immediately a towering presence standing there in a low-cut white jumpsuit, her hair blown constantly by a fan. The ’70s-sex-appeal look matched her voice and the band’s sound, which straddled country, rock and soul with natural ease. They opened with “Heart Gets Tough,” off the new album, Bluhm belting out the lyrics while the Gramblers settled in. Throughout the set, she was a powerful mix of Grace Slick, Stevie Nicks and Janis Joplin, shining on the high-energy, high-volume material like “Mr. Saturday Night,” and just as powerful on the quiet, tender side, on songs like “Only Always.” The Gramblers were a seasoned complement, a rocking force that allowed Bluhm to strut and dance around the stage, picking up strategically placed tambourines and other percussion instruments along the way.

Bluhm and the Gramblers are well-known for their Van Sessions—online videos of covers performed while on the road—so it’s no surprise that the show featured several great picks, including a this-song-is-a-perfect-fit rendition of Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody to Love.” Funkadelic’s “Can You Get to That” was done acoustically in front of a single microphone, country meeting funk and getting along swimmingly. Afterward, when everyone moved to go back to their original spots onstage, Bluhm was having none of it: She called them back for a fun sing-along take on the Grateful Dead’s “Deal.” Later, they invited Combs and his entire band out for a hootenanny of a jam session on Gram Parsons’ “Ooh Las Vegas.” Still, Bluhm and Co. weren’t yet finished, saving their best all-out rocking and jamming for the show’s final stretch, which included a romp on “Little Too Late” and Andy Falco sitting in on a double-guitar, Allman Brothers–esque take on “Jetplane,” before finally ending the set with “Kill You to Call,” Bluhm at full strength, a force of nature that the Gramblers were only barely able to corral. —A. Stein | @Neddyo

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Greensky Bluegrass Use a Little Bit of Everything to Brooklyn

January 30th, 2015

Greensky Bluegrass – Brooklyn Bowl – January 29, 2015

(Photo: Chris Monaghan)

(Photo: Chris Monaghan)

“We’re a bluegrass band.” That’s what members of Greensky Bluegrass kept announcing between songs at last night’s sold-out show at Brooklyn Bowl. At first, I was like, “Duh, it’s in your name!” But after a few decidedly out-there jams, I finally picked up on the very bluegrass joke. They definitely have the proper instrumentation (banjo, guitar, dobro, mandolin, bass), and they can play comfortably in the genre—but Greensky Bluegrass were playing with a jam-band style in rock club beneath a light show suitable for an EDM show. (Yes, Greensky Bluegrass are one of the few bands I’ve seen bring their own lighting rig.)

The set began with a dobro-heavy “Just to Lie” that showed off their abilities in the standard-bluegrass region before quickly going off course into a darker, minor-key piece with the lights following suit. This led to some deep hallucinogenic jamming that featured excellent playing from each of the band’s instrumentalists, with multiple build-and-release moments that prompted a healthy “whoop” from the packed house. Twenty minutes later, the opening sequence finally came to a climactic end. The crowd and band now settled in, Greensky crafted a two-set show filled with genre-straddling songs and jams, deftly flipping between the more traditional and progressive and whatever it is that’s beyond that. The lights followed suit, zipping through all of the colors of the rainbow and beyond, sometimes in unexpected combinations—an apt visual metaphor for the music being made. NYC jam-guest extraordinaire Eric Krasno came out for the first-set-closing cover of Norton Buffalo’s “Ain’t No Bread in the Breadbox,” a song made popular by Jerry Garcia but perfectly suited for a duel between dobro player Anders Beck and Krasno.

Things got even deeper during the second set, which opened with a dark, country-rock “Bring Out Your Dead.” The second guest of the night, Andy Falco of the Infamous Stringdusters, came out to help on Bill Monroe’s “Working on a Building,” yellow spotlights emanating from the stage like beams from the sun, before jamming out admirably on a David Grisman number. Throughout the second set, Greensky Bluegrass started in a place that felt recognizably connected to bluegrass but would then venture far into something different. The closing song was a prime example, the music dipped into an almost trance jam before returning to the theme and then running off again exploring in impressive fashion. The encore seemed designed to ground everyone again, Greensky calling out Krasno once more to help with a cover of the Allman Brothers’ “Midnight Rider,” the crowd singing along at full volume, and the bluegrass band doing a pretty good Southern rock impression with a little help from their friend.—A. Stein | @Neddyo

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Infamous Stringdusters Celebrate New Album at The Bowery Ballroom

March 25th, 2014

The Infamous Stringdusters, those noted purveyors of groove-friendly bluegrass, formed in Nashville in 2006. According to PopMatters, they “take traditional bluegrass and old-timey music and use it as a launching pad to explore other, more improvisational, free-flowing forms.” And while the band’s lineup hasn’t been exactly free flowing, there have been a few personnel changes over the ensuing years: Guitarist Andy Falco joined when Chris Eldridge departed to join Punch Brothers, and several years later, the man on the mandolin, Jesse Cobb, left the band. But Travis Book (upright bass), Jeremy Garrett (Fiddle), Andy Hall (dobro) and Chris Pandolfi (banjo) have all been around since the start. And together, they’ve put out five albums (one of them a live LP), the last of which, Silver Sky (stream it below), came out in 2012. But their newest full-length, the highly anticipated Let It Go, arrives next Tuesday. And the Infamous Stringdusters (above, performing “Let It Go” and, below, covering Lorde’s “Royals”) are already out on the road in support of it. Their tour brings them to New York City to play The Bowery Ballroom on Thursday night.