Friday, November 16, 2007

Newly Infamous Andy Falco recalls his start

By Dan Ruby

The Infamous Stringdusters' new guitarist Andy Falco has stepped up ably into the vacancy left by the departure of original member Chris Eldridge, who has joined Chris Thile's new band Punch Brothers. (See the concert review of the Stringdusters' appearance last night in Berkeley CA.)

Falco has all the blistering flat-picking chops that Eldridge brought to the band, plus he displays an easy-going stage personality that fits in well with the loosey goosey chemistry of the band, maybe more so than Eldridge's somewhat standoffish style.

Falco joined the band in September after finishing his commitments with The Greencards, with whom he had played for much of the previous year. When I chatted with him during intermission, he told me that the decision for him to join the band had been made in July. He said that he had known Andy Hall and some of the other Stringdusters for years and that it was a natural fit for him to join the band.

I asked him how a young guy from Long Island NY became a top bluegrass picker. He said he started as a musician playing electric guitar in New York bands. One weekend in 1997, while playing a gig in New Paltz NY, he decided to go hang out with friends the next day at the nearby Winterhawk Bluegrass Festival, now Grey Fox.

"I went to a workshop and for the first time saw Doc Watson play. I was right up close to him and my jaw dropped. I knew I'd have to get an acoustic guitar and learn how to do that," he told me.

Now, 10 years later, Falco is one of the top young flat-pickers on the contemporary acoustic music scene.


Dan Ruby said...

I'm always amazed by people who become great bluegrass musicians without having bluegrass in their blood. With Critter gone, it is interesting that not one of the six Stringdusters grew up below the Mason Dixon line.

Ted Lehmann said...

Whoa Dan, just because you grew up north of the Mason-Dixon line doesn't mean you don't have bluegrass in your blood. Take a look at the Gibson Brothers now and, historically, Joe Val. - Ted

Dan Ruby said...

Okay, I'm confusing geographic and musical roots. Forget that he is from Garden City, Long Island, but Andy had hardly heard bluegrass until he was an adult. That's different than, say, Jesse Cobb in the same band, who grew up in a bluegrass family in Wisconsin.