The first time I heard the words Billy and Strings in the same sentence I was bit confused. My friend Michelle told me Billy Strings was playing at the Mishawaka Amphitheatre in Fort Collins, Colorado. I said ‘Boy, with a name like that this cat better be good, that's a lot of pressure!’ Well, several years have passed since then and Billy has proven to the world that he is deserving of the nick-name Billy Strings, his aunt gave him the when she first saw his musical abilities on multiple traditional bluegrass instruments.
Award-winning singer, songwriter and musician Billy Strings will continue his extensive headline tour through this summer with newly confirmed shows at New York’s The Rooftop at Pier 17, Baltimore’s Pier Six Pavilion (two nights), Louisville’s Iroquois Amphitheater (three nights), Indianapolis’ TCU Amphitheater at White River State Park (two nights), Minneapolis’ Surly Brewing Festival Field and Portland’s McMenamins Edgefield (two nights) among many others.
I don’t know what normal is anymore. So, I am still a little dumbfounded when people say we are getting back to normal. Or, their slightly more pessimistic counterparts, who assure me that this is the new normal. Tuesday night, seeing Billy Strings play at The Champlain Valley Expo outside of Burlington, VT felt like it landed right between those two paradigms; seizing on the optimistic return to what was, and infecting what is with that same sense of buoyancy.
Bluegrass guitar virtuoso Billy Strings has been one of the hottest artists in both the bluegrass and jam band communities since prior to the covid-19 pandemic. In addition to winning a Grammy in 2019, he has continued to build a dedicated following by releasing new songs as well as live streams to audiences that were stuck at home. On September 24th, 2021, his new album Renewal will be released.
As the week winds to a close, we are reflecting back with some thoughts about the undoubtedly historic run of musical performances that just occurred this past week at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY: Billy Strings’ “The Deja Vu Experiments,” which saw the bluegrass guitarist and his quartet play six consecutive shows at the rock palace, live-streamed to what was reported as over 30,000 viewers tuning in.
I last reviewed a streamed Billy Strings show in July. A lot has changed since then. Online concerts have grown more sophisticated, with platforms like Twitch taking the tech out of the artist’s hands. Billy’s hair? That too has changed from the oft braided locks of an up and comer to the mullet of someone who has arrived.
Twang meets psychedelic groove when Billy Strings comes to town. The 28-year-old bluegrass star performed for an empty Ryman Auditorium on October 25th while fans watched through a livestream platform. Strings powerful stage presence allowed his virtual audience to feel like they were front row at the famous Nashville venue and fully immersed in the sound of live music.