The benefit is that there is a tightness to the band of Andy Hall on Dobro, Andy Falco on guitar, Chris Pandolfi on banjo, Jeremy Garrett on fiddle and Travis Book on upright bass.
Starting with "Once You're Gone" during the first of two sets, the music presentation came off more as a democracy. Everyone had a chance to stretch it out musically, something that would happen often.
Falco, for example, had a chance to shine on his acoustic guitar several times and answered the call repeatedly. There is a cohesiveness to the group, while making the music sound fresh.
The Stringdusters have three lead singers, mixing it up between Hall, Garrett, who handled a good chunk of the lead singing, and Hall. While Book faltered on the first song he tackled ("Night on the River") with little sense of ownership, he certainly improved on his later offerings. Garrett was the strongest of the singers.
Hall had a chance to shine on the closing song to the opening set, "Time to Part," where not only did he turning a good job of handling the vocals, but he sprinkled the song with his very fine Dobro playing.
Indicative of the Stringdusters' determination in spreading the love, Kellen Asebrook, guitarist for opening act, Fruition, came out to lend his lead vocals to John Prine's "Long Monday."
The Stringdusters aren't the typical bluegrass band in look or music. After all, what bluegrass band stretches out song after song? But give the Dusters credit for doing its brand of bluegrass quite well.
Fruition, of Portland, Ore., acquitted itself in a strong opening set that cut across a swath of country, blues, rock and rootsy sounds. Like the headliners, the band changed it up vocally with Jay Cobb Anderson and Mimi Naja taking over. Anderson, who offered a chunk of good electric guitar licks, was equally strong on vocals. Naja spiced her lead singing with bluesy sounds, offering a different face.
The band had comfortableness with being on stage, establishing a good bond with the crowd. They may not have the most exciting name for a band, but their music more than made up for it.