If you go

What: The Infamous Stringdusters Ski Tour 2013

When: Friday and Saturday at 9 p.m.

Where: Fox, 1135 13th St., 303-443-3399

Cost: $22-$38


The Infamous Stringdusters, bluegrass group from Nashville, Tennessee, succeed because they sound good, of course, but it also helps that they're very self-aware.

Musicians, like any people who create, will usually either hem and haw and "I don't know" or be very analytical when asked to talk about their work.

It's understandable. Chris Pandolfi falls into the second group.

The Stringdusters' banjo player seems to have thought carefully though it all, starting with what kind of music, exactly, the band makes -- and what it means to everyone who hears it.

"That's a big question that constantly follows us around, but to me, we're a bluegrass band and I think that's awesome" Pandolfi said.

"It's a funny thing, the press that gets out there in the world comes from one of two places. One is a place that's really knowledgeable about bluegrass and tradition, and to those people we're just the most progressive thing going. But to that outside world who are uninitiated in that tradition, we are undeniably bluegrass, and for the uninitiated there's no stigma. Bluegrass might not be the most commercially viable music ever, but I'll tell you what, as a musician, you are proud to play bluegrass."


The Stringdusters have had years to get a solid grip on where they stand, and along the way, they've learned what all other working musicians know about the music business: It's changing and bands need to adapt.

"Right now, you know, recorded music is a bit of a Wild West and nobody is getting compensated the way that they used to. However, it is still the biggest thing you can do to make a splash," Pandolfi said. "Having a YouTube video with a million views, at one point you couldn't really quantify that, but these days it relates directly to touring."

So, the Infamous Stringdusters will change a little to thrive, he said. Soon, they'll start recording a new record -- something that Pandolfi said the band is ready to work hard on.

"We're putting a lot of energy into the evolution process here and making sure this album gets out to a lot of people," he said. "We've done a great job of that on the touring front, but we haven't put a lot of energy into the recording process until now."

The band is currently in the midst of its annual Ski Tour, playing the country's best ski towns -- and getting some skiing in for themselves. That means for now, the next album will stay in the very early creative stages, which is all right with them, since there's a lot to work out -- and a lot to just let happen, said Pandolfi.

"I think a lot of our evolution, musically, happens when we're learning to and trying to create new sounds." Pandolfi said. "We hang out for days and days and write and learn, and we get to make music without any tangible end goal in mind.

"This is us trying to figure out the things that we haven't figured out before."

Until the next album, you can check out the Infamous Stringdusters' 2012 release Silver Sky and, of course, catch them while they're at the Fox Theatre this Friday and Saturday with Waiting on Trial and the Jon Stickley Trio.