Up next, 2012

2011 was a crazy and amazing year for the Infamous Stringdusters. But it’s over, and the door to 2012 is flying open right in front of our eyes. Incredible things are happening. Here’s a bit about what’s up next, and why.

We are a five piece band now. It has been unexpectedly liberating. Changes of any sort bring fresh ideas and perspectives. New music and new sounds are finding their way in faster than ever, as we devote more time to learning/rehearsing, both on and off the road. And our show has an amazing revived energy, more inventive all the time. We’ve found that less guys does not mean fewer decibels or energy, but it does mean more space and more options. Working on new material with my bandmates is such a highlight, and we have more incentive than ever before to create, record and perform our music.

Last fall marked the end of our deal with Sugar Hill Records, allowing us to really develop more of our own ideas about how the Stringdusters business should work. That involves releasing quite a bit more music (one release every two years is simply not enough for our band!). We have a new studio album coming in the spring, and a great new relationship with producer/engineer Billy Hume. He is the man. This was the first step in a beefed up, more regular/fluid studio routine, with much more sonic creativity. We also have amazing new live recording capabilities, thanks to our genius sound engineer, Drew Becker. We now travel with a 48 channel pro tools console, multi-tracking every show, preparing to release high quality mixed versions of our best shows. We’ve wanted to do this forever. Now is the time.

How do we ‘release’ all this music? That’s our new independent record label, High Country Recordings. Right now it’s pretty simple: you can buy it from us at a show or direct from our website (serviced by Artifact Concepts), and we have all our digital distribution done by Tunecore, a great service that gets you everywhere for very cheap. We’re out there on Spotify, iTunes, etc (where fans discover music, NOT where musicians earn much money), but not putting a disproportionate amount of energy into promoting ‘recordings’ at the moment. That said, we have hired a great new marketing partner who will cover our bases for radio (still important) and placement. Promotion of recorded music will change depending on the industry, and our numbers. Right now, HC Recordings is focused on making great recordings with very little overhead (it can be done if you have good musicians and a great engineer on the team!), getting lots of music out to the world, and making sure the recordings support our touring business. If fans hear you on the radio, or youtube, and know the words, the show energy multiplies by powers of ten, and everyone in the room will be back with ten friends the next time. Our shows are our main source of revenue, so that’s where we focus the most energy.

Shows you say? We are playing many of them. Our booking agent and our manager work like crazy to get us the right gigs. Over time this process is refined, by the band, and then the team, and this coming year is going to be huge. We are really focused on a bigger/better production, hence the cases of lights, backdrops, etc. Soon we’ll be raising money through Pledge Music to take the show/touring atmosphere over the top (more on this soon). Please allow us to throw a humongous party for you. I’ll be the guy with the banjo.

By the way, our new home town is Charlottesville, VA, and it really feels like home. We celebrated NYE here with 900 friends and it was magical. I remember hearing people talk about the period where your management team ‘gets to know you’ early on. But that process should never end. Since moving to VA, afternoon ‘philosophicals’ with our team are a staple. The more we learn about eachother, the better off we are. We love it here.

There will be many big moments along the way this year, including more shows with Yonder and the Festy Experience, Part 3. And there will be video of it all. But I think the biggest thing about the year ahead is that in some way it’s not that big at all. Now it feels more like a small step on a much longer journey, and what an important feeling that is. Typical music industry dreams can be pretty grandiose, pretty fleeting, if all you see is the distant future. But if you dream of the journey and the journey is real, suddenly you’ve arrived. Our manager, Michael Allenby, has worked hard to change some fundamental things about our business in this past year, to help us reinvest and build (including a voluntary paycut–unheard of!). After six years we have a plan to grow that involves much less mystery than when we started out. What better time to make these changes? The goal is to hone our expression as a band, and to bring a bigger, more quality experience to more people–recordings, videos, shows, festivals, tours, creativity, inspiration, happiness, etc. It’s work, that’s fun, especially when it’s working. Huge thanks to everyone who is a part of it! This is going to be the best year yet…

  12 comments for “Up next, 2012

  1. OregonBarb
    January 5, 2012 at 2:23 am

    You’re enthusiasm is contagious, Chris. I am excited about the multimedia artistic elements for your future shows. I hope I get to participate in a Stringduster experience again very soon.

  2. January 5, 2012 at 10:41 am

    Its a 48 channel console! We’ll need all of those channels when each guy is playing 5 instruments all at once!

  3. Bullshit
    January 5, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Nice way to gloss over Jesse Cobb’s departure from the band. Saying that being a 5 piece band now is ‘liberating’ is a direct slap in the face to Cobb. He has always been one of the most entertaining ‘Dusters on stage, and his mandolin was an integral part of the sound that brought the ‘Dusters to their current level of fan appreciation.

    Your direct statement … “After six years we have a plan to grow that involves much less mystery than when we started out. ”

    So why state you’re going to be more open, when you gloss over the reality of Cobb’s departure.

    You guys are the greatest on stage. But everytime you open your mouth in person or online, it just makes you look like bigger fools.

    • Jono Pandolfi
      January 5, 2012 at 2:18 pm

      Actually, it was a nice way to gloss it over. We all know that Jesse is a fantastic picker, but the reality is that the Dusters just work better as a five-piece, and are moving forward with that. If you think that they are the greatest on stage, then just enjoy that, ignore everything else, and stop being a complete whiner about everything.

    • Tim
      January 5, 2012 at 7:39 pm

      That’s hardly fair. They could have done the ‘normal” thing and just put another mandolin player in there and like “Bewitched” changing lead actors pretend nothing happened. But they didn’t. Instead they know there isn’t another mandolin player like Jesse. If anything that’s a compliment not a slap. The reality is the are jamming more, and you won’t find another bad minus drummers and the bass player that had 5 players trying to share the space. It’s a dense sound for good and for bad.

      I think it’s great they’ll find a sound as five piece, and hope as a mandolin fan that don’t discount the right person to join if the starts align. But no reason to force it.

      Thanks Chris for the update. I’ll be there next time you folks on the Front Range of Colorado.

  4. chrispandolfi
    January 5, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    oh. i meant that it has less mystery to us, as in we have a good idea about what we want to do, business wise. not that we are required to share every last detail.
    but thank you for they close analysis. tough, but close. just trying to share some good info here.

  5. AndyG
    January 5, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    I’m callin’ BS on Bullshit!

    Cobb left witout notice less than a week before The Festy 2 to be with a Noam Pickelny side project, from what rumours I have read online. I would say Pando isn’t so much “glossing over” but maybe leaving out a can of worms that is likely frustrating, unchangeable, and over, and trying to move with his best foot forward.

    Having better and more effective management, better sound equiptment, and starting a DIY record label is a great start to all of that. I can’t wait to see some other styles of mando players sit in with the ‘dusters in the near future as well.

    Yess Cobb is a great picker and was instrumental in the ‘dusters current level of success (how could he not be???), but he was 1 out of six ‘dusters, not the entire band. In other words, if you saw Cobb play an open mic by himself, it wouldn’t really sound like the ‘dusters.

    Bullshit, how do you “open your mouth online?” Maybe “open your fingers” would work better…

    • kelly
      January 5, 2012 at 5:22 pm

      Stringdusters rock! Saw yall in September and late October… and August and December… Completely love the new sound and energy! Trying not to get all Mel on you guys but what’s this about a party??

      Yes. Total fan of the five. Thanks all for what you do!!

  6. Bruce
    January 5, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    Thanks for the news. Would sure love to see mando in the line-up again. OVERJOYED about being able to buy audio of shows!!

  7. Frank
    January 5, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    I’ve seen the ‘Dusters with & without Jesse (and, for that matter, with & without Critter). With Cobb they were a great band, but I saw them in Charlotte this fall not too long after Jesse left and the band rocked the house. Was it different w/o Jesse? Certainly. Was it better? I think so. The whole band was really working the show and Falco…OMG…Falco was playing crazy good. It was like he was taking responsibility for filling the energy of the missing man. Everything sounded fresher…a little more ‘life-on-the-edge’…out of the comfort zone they had found as a six-man band. It appeared that Jesse’s leaving re-ignited the spark for the rest of the band…and perhaps for Jesse, too. Change for the sake of change isn’t always a good thing, but change can spark the creative juices and it sure seemed to have fired the ‘Dusters’ creativity. I, too, am looking forward to all the exciting things 2012 has in store for the band and can’t wait to see them again!!!!

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