Fiddles and Freedom: An Unforgettable Weekend with The Infamous Stringdusters - Mishawaka

Fiddles and Freedom: An Unforgettable Weekend with The Infamous Stringdusters

This past weekend, The Grammy Award-winning jamgrass quintet The Infamous Stringdusters graced our stage for two back-to-back nights. With support from The Fretliners and The Last Revel, all three bands brought their incredible talent and high energy for two unforgettable nights of banjo pickin’ and fiddle shreddin’ at The Mishawaka Amphitheatre.

Kicking off the two-night run was local treasure, The Fretliners. Since playing our stage for the first time as a band last summer, the powerful bluegrass quartet has won both band competitions at Telluride Bluegrass and Rockygrass Festivals, adding to the crowd’s anticipation to see them again. The Fretliners began their set with songs from their cherished eponymous debut album released last fall, including “ Where the Green Grass Grows” and “Lonesome Holler.”

The Fretliners consists of Tom Knowlton on guitar and lead vocals, Sam Parks on mandolin, Dan Andree on fiddle, and Taylor Shuck on bass. All of them have previously played with well-known bluegrass bands such as Wood Belly, Henhouse Prowlers, and Head for the Hills. The quartet carried on with their set playing “Floodwaters,” an original by Sam Parks from when he played with Head for the Hills in 2017. The Fretliners followed with songs from their recently released EP, Three of a Kind, including “Memories of You” and “Prince of Peace.”

The Fretliners concluded their set with two more songs from their debut album, fan favorites “Purple Flowers” and “Dreaming of the Dawn.” With Tom’s captivating voice and the rest of the band’s undeniable chemistry, their set was the perfect way to initiate the bluegrass-filled weekend run.

With the crowd eager for more banjo pickin’ and fiddle shreddin’, The Infamous Stringdusters finally took the stage for their first of four sets of the weekend. The quintet began with a few original songs from their fiddle player, Jeremy Garrett, including “Once You’re Gone” from his recent full-length bluegrass record, River Wild (2022), and fan favorite “Y2K” from his debut solo album, I Am A Stranger (2008). The band delivered both songs with impeccable skill and high energy, properly igniting the crowd for the evening to follow.

During their first set, The Stringdusters incorporated a remarkable song cycle of their uplifting song “Truth and Love,” including sensational covers of John Hartford’s “Steam Powered Aereo Plane” and U2’s “Every Breaking Wave.” As the quartet concluded their first set with a jam of “Truth and Love” there wasn’t a single person not clapping, smiling, and dancing along to their impeccable improvisations.

The Infamous Stringdusters returned to the stage for their second set of the evening, beginning with a chipper cover of Grandpa Jones’ “Eight More Miles to Louisville.” After playing “Wake the Dead” and “Planets” from their album Rise Sun (2019), the quartet carried the high energy with covers of “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure and “Polka on the Banjo” by Flatt & Scruggs.

The Infamous Stringdusters did not relent from their high spirits for the end of their set. The quartet delivered an unforgettable and energetic final set of songs, starting with “Colorado” from their album Let It Go (2014), as a two-night run at The Mishawaka would be incomplete without it. After following with an epic cover of Grateful Dead’s “Jack-A-Roe,” The Stringdusters wrapped up their set with one of their earliest original favorites, “Fork In The Road,” from their first album released in 2006.

After the band left the stage, the crowd pleaded for one last song to hold them over until they could hear them play again the following night. The Stringdusters happily obliged and returned to the stage to play their tender and touching song, “Rainbows.” Everyone left the venue beaming from the heartwarming yet energetic show they had just witnessed and grateful that one more night of their impeccable bluegrass-playing talent awaited.

As bluegrass lovers loaded in for the anticipated second night of The Infamous Stringdusters, everyone was excited for this five-piece to fill the canyon with their fast-paced and thrilling string dusting. The venue quickly filled up with people from all over, as this Bluegrass Jam is well-known and enjoyed by many, and experiencing it live is so much fun!

The four-piece folk group, The Last Revel, supported The Infamous Stringdusters on the second night of their run. This Minneapolis-based band set the tone for a successful night with their heavenly four-part vocal harmonies blending flawlessly with their light and fun fiddle, five-string banjo, acoustic guitar, and groovy upright bass. The Last Revel included some heartfelt and sincere covers, which curated a fantastic opening set for the second night of this run. 

As The Infamous Stringdusters took the stage once again, the crowd was filled with excitement for another night of amazing bluegrass music. How the electric fiddle blends bluegrass with electronic jam to create a fresh and innovative sound is truly mesmerizing. When the fiddle switches to its electronic sound, the stage lights up, and the crowd goes wild! Their performance of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” was a huge hit as they put their own exciting twist on the main melody. The ability of The Infamous Stringdusters to adapt and improvise on stage is undeniably impressive.

This band is incredibly professional, with a unique blend of personality and musical talent. Their ability to shift around the stage and engage in five-minute jams keeps the audience captivated and makes for a fun and unique act. The Stringdusters’ sets are inclusive and malleable due to their skillful creation of live crescendos and decrescendos within and between their chosen songs. It’s truly incredible to witness what this quartet of talented musicians can achieve together, making them a must-see act!

As the second night wrapped up, patrons beamed with happy faces and endless enthusiasm as they headed home, reminiscing on the unforgettable performances they had witnessed. The trio of bands to hit the stage across these two nights truly delivered a once-in-a-lifetime experience, leaving an undeniable mark on everyone who attended. The entire Mishawaka crew extends thanks to the three acts and to everyone who jammed out with us on this sunny and bright 4th of July Weekend!

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