My name is Chris Pandolfi. I’m a full time musician, Grammy winner, producer, podcaster, writer and all-around creative based in Denver, Colorado.
Music was all around me growing up. My grandparents, Frank and Carmela Pandolfi, started the Connecticut Opera Association in 1942. I never met my grandfather, but my grandmother got us playing piano at a really young age. Ultimately inspired by my older brother Jono’s musical tastes and exploits, I got my first banjo in the summer of 1997. The next ten or so years flew by. During that time I got my undergrad degree at Dartmouth College and then went on to be the first ever banjo principal at the Berklee College of Music before moving to Nashville, TN in 2004. Along the way I was lucky to work with many amazing people, but ultimately I started a band with great musicians who are also my great friends–The Infamous Stringdusters. We have been touring for about 11 years, have a bunch of albums and an amazing community of fans. The Dusters have 2 Grammy nominations and a Grammy win for ‘Bluegrass Album of the Year’ in 2018. We strive to make good original music, explore the world and enjoy life.
Aside from the Dusters I have a few solo endeavors that keep me busy. TRAD+ is a banjo-centric exploration of a different sonic world, combining vinyl samples, drums, synths, strings, beats and much more. I released my first album, Interference, in the fall of 2015, and it’s been downloaded over 600,000 times internationally. TRAD+ continues to evolve and more new music is on the way. Before these experiments started, I wrote and produced two banjo-centric solo albums (Looking Glass and the Handoff), that feature a lot of original music and some of my favorite acoustic players. I’ve also produced records for Trout Steak Revival (Brighter Every Day, and Spirit to the Sea) and Meadow Mountain, both great up and coming string bands. In addition to producing, session work and solo endeavors, Andy Hall and I front the Bluegrass Generals–a rotating cast of killer bluegrass pickers that come together for a weekend of music a few times a year. Past Generals include Sam Bush, Larry Keel, Sam Grisman, Billy Nershi, Billy Strings and more.
My latest venture is my new podcast, ‘Inside the Musician’s Brain.’ It’s a deep dive into everything that’s underneath the music and the artists that inspire us. I explore the Stringdusters world and I also sit down with other influential artists to discuss inspiration, creativity, and the many facets of bringing a musical vision to life. I love getting heady with other musicians! New episodes come out every two weeks. ITMB is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.
While music has always been my passion, I also love to write and create short motion pictures. I started working on video around 2007, filming the ‘Dusters hijinx, documentary style. Since then I have enjoyed finding more and more creative ways to use the camera/editing software, from stop-motion to performance to ski vids. My writing focuses mostly on our adventures and our musical scene, a subject that’s always interested me along my journey from the Northeast to Nashville, Virginia and now Colorado. Bluegrass is its own world, filled with incredible musicianship and a short but vibrant history of crazy characters, trends and changes. A few of my pieces about the current state of the bluegrass world reached a big audience. In the wake of that attention the International Bluegrass Music Association asked me to deliver a keynote address at the 2011 World of Bluegrass in Nashville, TN (their annual business conference), giving some real recognition to a new vision of a bigger, more connected acoustic world. I also explored many of these topics in a recent piece for No Depression’s ‘Bluegrass Beyond’ issue. It’s an exciting time for bluegrass, and we look forward to being a part of whatever is next.
I moved to Denver, CO in 2013, a place that has always embraced the Stringdusters. I’m excited to call it home.