Billy Strings is better than I thought he was! Is Billy strings the new direction of Bluegrass? Who cares as Billy takes off on his own musical journey that combines songs from Bluegrass, Newgrass, Spacegrass, Psychedelicgrass, Anykindograss, Country, Folk, Jazz, Rock, and Old-Timey, with sometimes elements of all these genres within one song. Billy can go from an all-out burner with improvised, multilayered-looping, electric-guitar effects, and then on next to a Stanley Brothers song delivered with reverence for traditional Bluegrass, and all while his audience follows and rejoices in his song choices! Billy's shows feature rock-concert-style lighting and effects along with three big screens to zero in on what each player is doing when soloing.
Okay, I'm 72, and now I know what aging hippies my age look like when attending a Billy Strings show. I saw folks from 14 to 80+ in the audience and this made for a nice sense of community. In the tradition of Dead Heads, a sizeable number in his upfront, on-the-floor audience follow Billy show to show. Most of the audience (including myself) at one time or another was either dancing or bopping along to Billy's performance--Need I say we all loved the show!
Billy's band is exceptionally tight while looking loose on stage. He has Jarrod Walker on mandolin, John Mailander on fiddle, Royal Masat on upright bass, and long-time member Billy Failing on 5-string banjo. He needs to keep these guys with him no matter what!
Billy used his Preston Thompson sunburst dreadnought equipped with a K&K Pure Mini, and a magnetic soundhole pickup (see photo at the top of the post to determine the brand). Considering the volume levels Billy and his band play at, I heard no feedback. Yes, at times the guitar can sound a bit nasally but overall his amplified tone is good!
This was my first Billy Strings show and I'm looking forward to when he comes around again to Rochester!
Although his two opening songs in Rochester were the same as at The Lyric Oxford, in Oxford, Mississippi, on January 27, 2020, I included the opening songs "Old Train" and "Turmoil & Tinfoil" from the Oxford show as no video of the Rochester show was available at the time of this writing. Thanks For Looking In!
Old Train (The Seldom Scene cover)
Turmoil & Tinfoil
Running the Route
Stone Walls and Steel Bars (The Stanley Brothers cover)
Ashland Breakdown (Bill Monroe and The Bluegrass Boys cover)
The Train That Carried My Girl From Town (Doc Watson cover)
Black Mountain Rag (traditional cover)
Love and Regret
Must Be Seven
In the Morning Light
Everything's the Same
Heartbeat of America
Red Rocking Chair (traditional cover)
While I'm Waiting Here
And Your Bird Can Sing (The Beatles cover)
Been All Around This World (traditional cover)
The Fire on My Tongue
Air Mail Special (Jim and Jesse cover)
John Deere Tractor (Larry Sparks cover)
Tipper (Tony Rice cover)
Dust In A Baggie (Billy Strings & Don Julin cover)
Cold, Cold World (Blaze Foley cover)
Roll On Buddy Roll On (Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys cover)
Gold Rush (Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys cover)