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Artist Interview: Andy Hall, The Infamous Stringdusters

Photo by George Trent Grogan

The Infamous Stringdusters, who won a Grammy in 2018 for Best Bluegrass Album, are coming to Fargo on November 15. This is our interview with band member Andy Hall ahead of the show.

When: Tuesday, November 15. Doors open 7 p.m.

Where: The Hall at Fargo Brewing, 610 University Dr N, Fargo, ND

Details: 21+

What are you looking forward to about the Fargo show?

Well, one of the things I’m looking forward to about the Fargo show is that we haven’t been there in many years. I don’t recall the last time we were there but it’s been a long time. Fargo is such an enthusiastic crowd. It’s gonna be fun!

Any plans to take in the city?

We’ll be arriving in Fargo the morning of the show but will have time to walk around town and get some food hopefully. We don’t usually have a ton of time to hang when we’re touring. Mainly, we’re looking forward to seeing the people at the show enjoying a night there in Fargo.

What inspired you to get into the music industry?

When I got into music the word “industry” was not really anywhere in my mind. I was just wanting to play music. That’s what I enjoy, that’s what I love. The “industry” was always an afterthought, the music business part of things. It’s something that I’ve had to learn as I’ve gone along. Playing music, that part of it, the play and the enjoyment has always been the drive for me. Honestly, adding the word industry to music is sort of a hard one for me, but a bit of a necessary evil.

Who are some of your biggest musical inspirations? 

My two biggest musical influences would be Jerry Douglas and Tony Rice. They are the foundational players that really developed the type of bluegrass that I’ve built my playing around. A modern sound standing on the shoulders of the forefathers. Innovative but understandable. There are many, from Jimi Hendrix to Grateful Dead to Tycho. The list is long and continues to grow.

How would you describe the music that you typically create?

The music that we make I would call modern acoustic music. It’s certainly bluegrass-based but we incorporate all kinds of rhythms from rock to jazz. The bluegrass beat and the bluegrass rhythm really hold strong throughout the years. It’s what gets people dancing and it’s what we really enjoy most.

What is your creative process like? 

My creative process definitely goes in spurts. I go through phases where I’m writing every day, writing vocals, songwriting, and instrumental music depending on what is coming up. If a Stringdusters album is coming up, I’ll write vocal songs. If I’m going to do a solo record many times, that’ll be instrumental and I’ll be writing instrumental music every day. But then, once I complete a project, six months could go by without me writing very much. It really comes in waves and I like it that way.

If you could open a show for any artist, who would it be?

To be honest that’s a question I’ve never really considered. Sometimes someone asks you to open and you’re surprised at the chemistry that you have with this newfound musical friend. I’ll let the universe come to me and make me an offer.

If you could work with any musician or group (past or present), who would it be and why? 

Something that has always interested me is combining jazz and bluegrass. When I graduated from the Berklee College of Music, Chick Corea was there to present us with our degrees. I would’ve loved to collaborate with Chick Corea. His creativity his musicality… the sound of his piano is something that I always loved. Bela Fleck was able to do it. The sound of the banjo and the piano together was really something magical.

Describe the best performance you’ve had?

My favorite musical performance is always the one that I’m currently doing. Trying to remember what was best or how I felt at any particular moment in the past is difficult for me. I’ve always noticed that more recent shows feel better than the faint memory of a past show. The present moment is always the richest and so whenever I’m performing that show is my favorite.

Which qualities do you believe make a great musician?

To me, the best musicians are the ones that are confident but not cocky. Ones that are just comfortable in their own skin and hence comfortable with their own music and their own performances. If you feel comfortable and natural, the music will come across really well.

What is your favorite song to perform?

My favorite song to perform really depends on the night. Again, usually new material for us is what I’m enjoying the most. We have a song called “I Didn’t Know” that Jeremy wrote. I really enjoy it playing these days.

What is your process for dealing with performance anxiety?

Dealing with performance anxiety can be a challenge. One of the best bits of advice that I could give is to expect to be nervous. Don’t try to not be nervous. Know you’re going to be nervous and accept it. Once you’ve accepted that, the worry part can kind of subside a bit. It can almost become like an old familiar friend. Something that you’ve seen 100 times before, something that you felt 100 times before and it’s nothing new. So when it comes up it’s not shocking, it’s not a surprise, it’s just part of the deal, and somehow that lessens the impact.

What tips do you have for any aspiring artists? 

The best advice I can give an aspiring artist is to work hard and relax. They may sound like two opposing forces but they’re not. You have to work hard but you need to also enjoy it. Do the work, enjoy it the rest will follow.

What is next for you? (Short-Term and Long-Term)

In the short term, we have an incredible amount of recorded music to release. Several collaborations as well as some special projects we’re going to be putting out. We have our own record label so most of this music comes out on that. It’s called Americana Vibes. In the long term, we’re going to continue to fine-tune how we tour. Continue to make original music, to write music, to balance home and travel and to try and bring people an amazing time through Bluegrass.

How can music lovers support you? 

The best thing people can do to support us is to come out and see us live and listen to our music online. And buy our merch! Those are the three biggest things. We try and always put out quality stuff. All we can do is hope that folks enjoy it.

Written by Brady Drake

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