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Wednesday, April 2, 2008 07:30 am

Score some quality ’grass

The Infamous Stringdusters and River Ramblers play the Hoogland on Saturday

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It is my great pleasure to announce the inaugural show of the Bedrock 66 Live! music series, sponsored in part by WUIS (91.9 FM), the public radio station at the University of Illinois at Springfield. Because of generous corporate donations to help defray the costs of entertainment and extra effort from WUIS staff members and volunteers, we now have a nice list of Americana performances to attend well into the fall. The first concert features an up-and-coming (or already arrived, depending on how you look at it) bluegrass group that is nothing short of fabulous. These young players, calling themselves the Infamous Stringdusters, push the boundaries of the American-bred genre while steadfastly continuing its staunch traditions. The Stringdusters are a wholesome bunch, all smiles and clean clothes. That’s a bit of bluegrass tradition, too — a we-aim-to-please attitude that’s prevalent in country and folk music but generally nonexistent in the rebellious, anger-based stance of most rock & roll.
My favorite aspect of bluegrass music, and of acoustic music in general, is the fact that no electricity is needed to perform it. In this era of pushing buttons, plugging in, and turning it up and our reliance on computers to do practically everything from opening a door to checking our health, I find it reassuring that music can still be performed purely through the interplay of human and instrument. But back to the Infamous Stringdusters and their many accomplishments, which include awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association for Song of the Year, Album of the Year, and Emerging Artist of the Year resulting from their 2007 release Fork in the Road (Sugar Hill Records). A new studio recording is set for release on June 10. Suffice it to say that these pickers and grinners are one of the best groups out there today, the standard-bearers for a new generation of bluegrass performers. A quick look at their tour schedule, littered with prestigious venues, speaks volumes about the band’s talent.
Opening the 3 p.m. matinee show are the River Ramblers, central Illinois’ own resident bluegrass masters, who just celebrated their 20th anniversary under the leadership of chief Rambler Duane Patterson. The Infamous Stringdusters are taping the concert for a high-definition video to be released later in the year. While you’re enjoying the wonderful music brought to you in part by the folks at WUIS, consider opening your wallet: It’s pledge time at the public radio station.  
The Infamous Stringdusters/River Ramblers concert begins at 3 p.m. Saturday, April 5, at the Hoogland Center for the Arts (420 S. Sixth St., 217-523-2787).
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