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Fiddlin’ Around

A conversation with Grammy award winner, and fiddle maestro for the Infamous Stringdusters, Jeremy Garrett.

AM: I know when we had breakfast last month, you talked a bit about starting to play music at a very young age -  Please refresh a bit more on that journey, and how music shaped your childhood

JG:  My grandpa was a bluegrass musician and my dad is a bluegrass musician, so music runs in my family. Growing up singing in church that used shape notes to read music and picking up the fiddle at age 3, my path towards music was pretty clear early on. I grew up not far from the Annual National Fiddler’s Contest in Weiser, Idaho. Many types of acoustic music were represented at this event from strict contest fiddling to bluegrass improv to swing to Irish music. It seemed like the whole year was in preparation to jam with other musicians that showed up from around the world. Throughout the year someone was always over at our house jamming or we were at someone else’s house jamming or singing. If that wasn’t happening, there would be instruments sitting around to play, or vinyl records playing. Music has been in my blood as far back as I can remember.

AM: When did you realize that you wanted to play music for a career?

JG:  I feel like in the back of mind I always knew that music would be my thing. A friend told me about a college, South Plains College in Texas, where I could study commercial music, so I attended for a couple years studying Texas and country music. After college, I toured for 7 years in a professional bluegrass band with my dad. The transition between childhood and being a professional touring musician was pretty seamless. 

AM: Talk a bit about the timeline of joining The Infamous Stringdusters.

JG: When I first moved to Nashville, one of the first bands I played in was a sideman for bluegrass artist, Ronnie Bowman. When I came to that band, both Andy Hall (dobroist for Infamous Stringdusters) and Jesse Cobb (former Stringduster mandolinist) were in the band. At that time, in Nashville, there were all kinds of really great jams around town. Many of these sidemen would find themselves at these jams. That is where all the Dusters first jammed together in the same room. The chemistry between the dusters was pretty instantaneous and it wasn’t long after that we were discussing forming our own band.

AM: Where were you when you found out that the band had won a GRAMMY Award  in 2018?

We were lucky enough to attend the 2018 GRAMMY ceremony in New York City.  We were all in a row together when they announced our names, along with Rhonda Vincent, for Best Bluegrass Album. To say it was exciting, would be an understatement!  This was our second GRAMMY nomination and our first win. We attended both GRAMMY ceremonies and it was a thrill and an honor. 

AM: Your debut solo album "Circles" was recently released. How did the vision for that come about? 

JG: “Circles” is a culmination of being a singer-songwriter project, but adding a deeper element by using a loop machine. Back when I was traveling the country in my RV, I would write songs, and I would lay down demos with my personal recording equipment using all the instruments I play. It sparked an idea of how I could perform in this capacity as a solo artist: enter the loop machine. My focus with the project was to have deep content adding in the loop machine as an artistic element, using the loop machine to embellish the music by adding and removing various effects and song sections. People can follow me on Spotify for latest music releases. New singles for the follow up record to “Circles" will be coming out in the upcoming weeks. “Circles" can be streamed and downloaded here:

AM: Lastly, it wouldn’t be a 2020 conversation without discussing COVID-19. I know the pandemic has wreaked havoc on the music industry.  How are you finding ways to stay positive through all the canceled shows and impact as a whole?

JG: There is no doubt that this will affect our industry for a long time. For me, it’s all about being real while balancing expectations. Despite the economic challenges that this will bring for me personally and the industry, music is my job, and I love it for many reasons. Diving deep into music and seeing the amount of artists that are sharing their talents, and the amount of people tuning in and connecting online, at this moment illustrates how essential music is at a time like this. I feel like in that regard I am really lucky because I carry music with me everywhere I go.