Bluegrass festivals and bluegrass bands seem to be getting bigger all the time.

So big, in fact, that some are outgrowing the name.

Take The Infamous Stringdusters, a band that plays original bluegrass-style music on traditional instruments.

“Playing bluegrass instruments doesn’t necessarily make you a bluegrass band. We’re clearly derivative of bluegrass, but we’re part of a bigger movement of open-minded acoustic music,” said Chris Pandolfi, banjo player for The Infamous Stringdusters.

So it’s appropriate that the band is one of the headliners at this weekend’s Ossipee Valley Music Festival in South Hiram, about an hour west of Portland.

The festival attracts bluegrass musicians and fans from all over, and for many years had “bluegrass” in its title. But founder and organizer Bill Johnson — a local home builder and acoustic music fan — says the word was taken out of the title about three years ago to better reflect the wide range of music presented.

“We’ve always been a little left of bluegrass,” said Johnson, who started the festival in 1999. “We’re basically acoustic-based Americana music, maybe some rockabilly as well.”

Besides The Infamous Stringdusters, who will play at 3 and 8:15 p.m. Saturday, other headliners include bluegrass veteran Peter Rowan and The Kruger Brothers. Rowan began his career in the 1960s in the band of bluegrass legend Bill Monroe, and has played with David Grisman and Jerry Garcia at various times. The Kruger Brothers, originally from Switzerland, headline festivals around the country. Rowan and his band will perform at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, after The Infamous Stringdusters; The Kruger Brothers will perform at 9:30 p.m. Friday.

Some of the more than three dozen performers scheduled to play over the four days of the festival include Eilen Jewell, The Parkington Sisters, The Frank Vignola Quartet (including former members of Les Paul’s band), Red Molly, The Spinney Brothers, The Wiyos, Sierra Hull, The Hillbenders, Miss Tess and The Bon Ton Parade, and Old Sledge.

There will be five performances to kick off the festival tonight — including The Wiyos and Red Molly — then about 15 to 20 performances per day on Friday and Saturday, and about a dozen on Sunday.

The festival will also include workshops, dances, late-night jams and several contests that feature performances, including competitions for bands, songwriting and flat-picking.

Johnson, whose family runs Apple Acres farm in South Hiram, started the festival in 1999 as a “glorified picking session” for friends. But now the festival has corporate sponsors, and drew 5,000 fans last year.

The festival is getting well-known among bluegrass and acoustic musicians. Pandolfi has played the festival before as a member of other groups.

“I’m excited to get there again,” he said. “I like getting out to all these different festivals, from the ones with 40,000 people to the ones with a couple thousand. That way, you get to reach out to a lot of different kinds of people.”

The Infamous Stringdusters are based in Charlottesville, Va., although some members live in Nashville. The band recorded its first album, “Fork in the Road,” in 2007.

In 2010, the band was nominated for a Grammy Award for best country instrumental for the song “Magic #9.”

It was probably helpful in gaining that nomination that the band’s music is not strictly defined as bluegrass.

“We didn’t win, but we did go, and we had a great time,” said Pandolfi. “We don’t mind being called bluegrass, but unfortunately, when you throw out a genre, you do nothing but close doors. We’re just trying to reach a larger audience, just trying to make a living.”

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

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