Jeremy Garrett

My generation is exposed to so much more…

Interview with Jeremy Garrett, fiddle player and founder of “The Infamous Stringdusters”

© Lilly Drumeva-O’Reilly.

On 22nd of October 2013 I had a chat with Jeremy Garrett, fiddle player of The Infamous Stringdusters. We sat in the lobby of the Scarritt-Bennett Center, which was my hotel in Nashville. Here is what Jeremy shared with me:

How did you start playing music?

I started playing when I was 3 years old. I learned by the Suzuki method. My dad was a bluegrass musician. He played guitar. He used to hum fiddle tunes to me and I picked them up on the fiddle. I started playing in his band. Later in high school I joined the orchestra. I played classical as well. I went to college in Texas. Then I moved to Idaho and then Tennessee. I settled in Nashville and started working as a sideman. I played with Chris Jones, Bobby Osborne, Ronnie Bowman. At IBMA I met the Stringdusters and we formed the band 7 years ago.

Do you consider yourself a bluegrass musician?

Yes. I started with the traditional records of Kenny Baker, Bill Monroe, Chubby Wise, Bobby Hicks. I played also country and jazz. Growing up, I listened to a lot of Stéphan Grappelli. My generation is exposed to so much more. We can’t help it. I prefer to play freely, to improvise. Sometimes what comes out is bluegrass, sometimes jazz of classical.

Do you read music?

Yes, I do. Not very fast, but I can figure it out. It is still easier to rely on my ear.

Do you write you own songs?

Yes, that’s my contribution to The Stringdusters. I co-write with Jon Weisberger.

How did you learn to sing?

I guess from my dad. He was an excellent shape notes singer. I grew up singing them in the church.

What do you like about bluegrass music, why are you in it?

It gets in your blood and it doesn’t get out. There is something very energizing about it. It captured me. The sense of urgency. It is a platform to play creatively, to improvise.

Do you rehearse a lot? Who writes the set lists?

Chris Pandolfi, our banjo player, puts the songs together for each show. We rehearse on the road, during sound check.

What are your venues like?

We play a lot of rock clubs, big theaters.

What kind of people go to your shows?

All kinds. Mostly young ones. Between 25 and 40. I was on the board of IBMA in order to help bluegrass music to reach younger people. There are two ways in my view how the genre can survive: one is to become a preservation society and the other one is to evolve.

Who are your favorite country artists?

George Jones, Merle Haggard. From the newer ones – Keith Urban. I like Alan Jackson and Lee Ann Womack.

Jeremy, it was nice talking to you! Good luck!

Lilly Drumeva