To name them by genre, The Infamous Stringdusters are a bluegrass five-piece. But Stringdusters manager Michael Allenby prefers other descriptors. Tongue in cheek, he sometimes calls them a high-country band. But at their core, Allenby says, the Infamous Stringdusters are a lifestyle band.
It’s a novel way of labeling any group of musicians. Instead of branding them by the style of music they play, it evokes the sort of folks the band members are and, in turn, their fan base.
“It has a lot to do with figuring out what you want to do and doing it,” Allenby says of the lifestyle in question, “and being conscious about the world around them and how they affect it.”
The Stringdusters’ latest tour, dubbed “The Road to Boulder,” has seen the band’s mindful philosophy set in motion. For each of the 10 shows on the tour, the band will donate $1 per ticket sold to the Oskar Blues Brewery Can’d Aid Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on fundraising for the recently flood-damaged towns of Lyons and Longmont. The tour will also serve to spread the word about the flooding, as eight of the 10 tour dates bring them to venues beyond Colorado state lines.
The concept of the tour as a fundraiser didn’t come together until after the band’s show at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom in Denver on Sept. 13, a day after the National Guard began evacuating residents of Lyons. They had planned to announce the Road to Boulder tour in support of their new EP of the same name that night, but scrapped the announcement in light of the dire situation around the area.
“It sort of halted everything,” Allenby said of the floods.
That was especially true for the Infamous Stringdusters’ dobro player, Andy Hall. A Lyons resident for just over a year, Hall woke up to a banging sound the morning of the Cervantes show in his home in Blue Mountain valley.
When he went to investigate, he discovered his neighbor’s house split open, sheared in half by nearby Little Thompson river, which had surged into 200-yard-wide white waters.
His neighbor was standing in his exposed kitchen “banging on a pot to get somebody’s attention” for help.
Hall and a few other neighbors journeyed for a pocket of cell service and called in an evacuation for the distressed neighbor.
All of a sudden, the band’s show at Cervantes suddenly seemed a distant worry.
“I thought there was no way I’d make it,” Hall says.
Against the odds, Hall and his wife did make the show, driving through a rock quarry to get out of the flood-besieged town. Even on stage, in his element, he couldn’t shake what he’d seen.
“I was totally frazzled and confused,” he says. “I’m pretty calm in those situations … but there’s a weird energy about that sort of destruction.”
After the show, the band realized the opportunity it had in its Road to Boulder tour.
“All of this stuff shook us up,” Allenby says, “and when we stood back and looked at it, we saw an amazing opportunity to use this tour to draw attention to the flooding and the importance of Lyons as a node in the acoustic music scene.”
In addition to $1 of every ticket sold on the tour, they decided to dedicate 100 percent of the proceeds of their new EP, Road to Boulder, to the Can’d Aid Foundation.
As a so-called lifestyle band, the group is putting its money where its mouth is. Though the members trace their roots back to Nashville and Charlottesville, Colorado has always been a place that they call home.
“Colorado is our headquarters,” Allenby says, adding that the band makes a fifth of its gross income from the state.
As for Hall, his connection to the area has never been stronger.
“[The flood] taught me a lot about how tightly knit these mountain communities are,” he says. “I knew Lyons was an awesome community, but to see how important the town and community is to all the people that have been here was really impressive. I felt honored to be a part of it.”
ON THE BILL: The Infamous Stringdusters play the Boulder Theater on Saturday, Dec. 7 and Sunday, Dec. 8. Paper Bird opens. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets are $22 in advance,$25 day of show. 2032 14th St., Boulder, 303-786-7030.