By Kory Thibeault //
There truly is something special going on at Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael. This is not the first time I have spoken of it, nor will it be the last. Of course, being under the ownership of music legend Phil Lesh, it comes as no surprise their calendar of events is pretty rock solid. The artists who roll through Terrapin certainly attract a niche audience, extremely fitting for the intimate 250-person capacity the venue holds.
This past weekend was definitely intimate. The Grammy-nominated Infamous Stringdusters proved their worth in selling out a two-night run, with Friday billed as a “ramble” featuring Phil Lesh in the flesh. In the spirit of Levon Helm’s famous rambles, the Stringdusters took the stage for a high-energy show, first only to accompany Lesh and later The Terrapin Family Band for an All-Star, Grateful Dead-oriented closing set. “He’s Gone,” was an expected highlight, as the Stringdusters often cover the track, but this bustout was only the beginning. The quick picking intensified throughout the set, breathing new life into Dead classics. Particularly special on Friday was an extended jam of “The Wheel” > “Turn on Your Lovelight” > “Cumberland Blues”, which was a serious treat for everyone involved, especially the Terrapin community who frequents evenings such as these.
Saturday’s show featured two sets from the Stringdusters, a perfect opportunity to debut material off their new album Let It Go. While the LP lends itself more to the poppy side of this bluegrass outfit’s repertoire, the extended jams they performed proved this recent endeavor is far from a pop album. Trickled throughout the set were dark space jams, which brought great depth to the otherwise cut-and-dry tracks and moments that proved just as enjoyable for the band as it did for the audience. As an added treat, the Stringdusters invited Nicki Bluhm onto the stage to grace us with her exceptionally gorgeous voice. If this kind of exuberance and experimentation continues, they will undoubtedly have a fruitful career ahead of them.