One of the nation’s top music festivals gets underway in Floyd this weekend, and a Charlottesville-based band will use the event to launch an unusual tour – designed to entertain and raise awareness about one of America’s biggest environmental problems.
Some bands partner with tobacco or liquor companies, credit cards or energy drinks to provide the cash needed for their tours, but a Charlottesville group called the Infamous Stringdusters decided to make theirs a musical mission. Bass player Travis Book, who hails from Nelson County, explains.
“It can be easy when you’re in a band to be focused on playing your art and putting on a great show, but it can be an opportunity to shed a little bit of light on other things that are going on. You know we just have microphones and an audience every night, and we have a big bus that you can plaster a logo on.”
That logo belongs to American Rivers – a not-for-profit concerned about the nation’s water quality. Book says it was a natural fit for members of the band.
“We just did your beach tour, came up the beach – the East coast – spend a bunch of days surfing and playing music in places like Nag’s Head and Charleston , and now we’re heading on the American Rivers tour – partnering with American Rivers to try to bring awareness to this huge issue that faces everyone. It’s convenient that we also love to get out and float and fish, so we’re headed out west. We’re playing a bunch on the rivers of the American West – a lot on the Colorado River, which has been named the most endangered river in America, and we’re going to go out and have a good time and also try to do some good things for the water.”
In truth, the band does have commercial sponsors – a couple of outfitters, a brewery and a company that makes reusable steel cups. Andy Hall, who plays dobro, says that connection was also inspired by personal experience.
“ Touring can make a bit of waste. You know when you’re touring in a van, you open the van doors and water bottles and coffee cups come pouring out.”
The group’s concerts at Floydfest are already sold out, but they’ll be back in Virginia this fall – playing at Birchmere in September and at the Festy in Nelson County Columbus Day weekend.