It’s always something when Andy Falco comes to town.
In the old days, I’d skip a few classes or take off from work in recognition of such an event, get an extra set of housekeys made or book an itinerary of bands to catch. Once, just after I moved into the French Quarter, I purchased a couch from the Salvation Army for the express purpose of giving Andy Falco a place to sleep.
This week, Andy comes to town with his band, the Infamous Stringdusters, for a Thursday-night gig at the Blind Tiger. And instead of a Greyhound ticket and a battered old electric slung across his back, he’s traveling in a fancy sleeper bus with his bandmates and an entire production crew. He and the fellas have a Grammy for 2017’s Laws of Gravity, a new album slated for a January release and a touring schedule that puts them on the road more than 100 nights a year.
“I don’t even count the dates anymore,” he tells me. “It’s hard for me to think about how much we’re actually out there. I’m just trying to live it.”
It’s all he ever wanted: to be a badass guitar player in a badass band, to do his best work under the lights and leave the crowd wanting more, to make something beautiful and worth preserving, no matter the cost.
The new album, he says, falls into line with that ethos he’s held to, stubbornly at times, since he was a 12-year-old kid wrestling his way through a Keith Richard lead in the junior high cafeteria.
“It’s bluegrass,” he says, “so there’s this focus on the soloists. But we became less concerned with the solo and more with the song, to make the arrangements service the song and not the musicians.”
They knew exactly which 13 songs would make the double-vinyl release, down to sides A, B, C and D. They recorded it in sequence, which was “kind of like living inside the record,” Andy says.
“The things you do on one song will influence what you play on the next,” he says. “It makes the line between the live show and the album very thin.”
They were thinking about Dark Side of the Moon, he says.
“When you listen to it from beginning to end, you feel like you’re on a journey,” he says, “and when it’s over you feel like you just walked out of a movie.”