Women in Music 2016
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Watch the Infamous Stringdusters Cover Bob Dylan's 'Don't Think Twice, It's All Right': Exclusive
We’ve been thinking about Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” a lot more than twice ever since he first debuted the song 52 years ago. It’s thought to be the second most-covered song from Dylan’s repertoire, with more than 200 recorded versions from Elvis Presley to Nick Drake. But you’ve never heard one with picking quite so severe as the bluegrass virtuosity in the Infamous Stringsdusters’ cover -- captured in a live-in-the-studio video making its premiere on Billboard.
You see “Don’t Think Twice” being laid down by the five players exactly as it’s being recorded for Undercover, a five-song EP the band just released of (you guessed it) covers. The bluegrass/jam quintet’s other picks on the new release -- which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s bluegrass chart -- include choices from Johnny Cash (“Big River”) to Tom Petty (“American Girl”), not to mention an update on one of the few remotely rootsy-sounding entries in Pink Floyd’s catalog, “Fearless” from 1971’s Meddle.
But picking on Dylan? You could hardly ask for a better fit. “We've been playing ‘Don't Think Twice’ for a while now,” says banjo player Chris Pandolfi, “and have always kept the arrangement really simple just because the words and music are pretty perfect as-is. If you listen to Dylan's original rhythm guitar, it's got a beautiful roll to it -- almost a bluegrass vibe -- so this one translated really easily. I always look forward to this one when I see it on the setlist.”
Pandolfi is also the director and producer of the clip, which literally places you in the center of the action at the in-the-round recording session, without any cameramen in sight. How’d they do it? To paraphrase another Dylan song: If you gotta go, GoPro now. Those mini-cameras aren’t just for skiing and surfing anymore, as this frantic performance proves.
If Dylan is right in their wheelhouse, the Infamous Stringdusters have been known to take bigger risks with some of their covers, as seen in a popular video of their live take on Lorde’s “Royals.” Their sixth full-length album, scheduled for early 2016, will reestablish their knack for the original string-band material they’ve been provided since they first hit the national scene eight years ago. You’ll no doubt find a healthy mixture of all of the above when the Stringdusters hit the road for a short tour of the Northeast and South, beginning with two shows at New York’s Brooklyn Bowl Oct. 29-30 and ending in Ashville, NC on Nov. 14.