By Matt Wickstrom
Billy Strings capped off his nine-show Streaming Strings tour from Nashville’s 3rd & Lindsley on Sunday night, delivering a blitzkrieg of monumental jams, surprise deep cuts and the tour’s first encore with an assist from “drop steel” guru Anders Beck.
Strings kick-started the show by veering toward the traditional with a performance of the late John Prine’s “Sweet Revenge,” the first time Strings has ever performed a Prine song live. After the song Strings expressed his sorrow for the loss of Prine, who died earlier this year from complications from COVID-19, saying, “Rest in peace Brother John Prine” before going on to describe observing the legendary songwriter sitting side stage during one of Strings’ recent appearances at 3rd & Linsley sitting in with The Travelin’ McCourys, among many others around local Nashville joints.
Following were “Slow Train,” an anything but slow track from String’s 2016 self-titled EP, and a traditional jam beginning with “Shady Grove” before segueing into The Dillards’ “Ernest T. Grass,” a shape-shifting instrumental jam that saw Strings morph his acoustic guitar into an electrifying sonic projectile and back again, sending the show from a bluegrass bash to a rock’n roll romp with the push of a pedal, eventually guiding the high strung jams into an energetic rendition of The Stanley Brothers’ “How Mountain Girls Can Love.”
From there Strings careened into another traditional cut, “Red Rocking Chair,” ahead of Bill Monroe & The Bluegrass Boys’ mandolin-led instrumental “Southern Flavor” and a surprise cover of Pearl Jam’s “In Hiding” prior to closing out the first set with a breakout performance on “Turmoil & Tinfoil.”
After paying tribute to the John Prine with his set one opener, Strings honored Kentucky native and newgrass pioneer Sam Bush with a cover of New Grass Revival’s “Whisper My Name,” preceding the song by saying that the idea to perform it came as he was leaving his Streaming Strings show the night before at Exit/In.
“We played last night over at the Exit/In, and when I was leaving I was driving my car out of the parking lot and saw this big ole’ picture of Sam Bush printed up on a wall,” Strings said. “I thought that was cool as hell, and I love Nashville and stuff like that, so we’re going to send this one out to our bud Sam.”
Backing up “Whisper My Name” was the Marty Stuart penned honky tonky “Old Mexico,” led in this instance by the rich baritone of Royal Masat on lead vocals before a segue into John Hartford’s ultra-trippy “All Fall Down,” taken to new heights by Strings and company with flashy, almost incoherent screeches to go with the song’s equally hectic arrangements.
Another deep cut, the Peter Rowan written, New Riders Of The Purple Sage hit “Lonesome L.A. Cowboy” came out of the other end of the epic “All Fall Down” jam ahead of the group welcoming their eight and final guest musician of the tour, dobro master Anders Beck from Greensky Bluegrass, to the stage to up the dose of twang on “Pyramid Country,” kicking off a colossal jam the came away yielding the howling vocals of Strings on traditional number “Little Maggie.”
Next up was a cover of southern rock Gods’ Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Ballad Of Curtis Loew” followed by the rambunctious get-down “Meet Me At The Creek” to close out the set. However, Strings had one more trick up his sleeve, with he and the band returning to the stage after a brief walk-off to perform the tour’s first, and only, encore, a cover of Bill Monroe’s “Y’all Come,” a beckoning of sorts for fans to come out to shows when things return to “normal,” not that the budding talent needs any pleas to have die-hards coming to his gigs in droves.
Billy Strings 7/26/2020 at 3rd & Lindsley in Nashville
Ernest T. Grass —>
How Mountain Girls Can Love
Red Rocking Chair —>
Old Train —>
Turmoil & Tinfoil
Whisper My Name
Old Mexico $ —>
All Fall Down
Lonesome L.A. Cowboy
Pyramid Country ^ —>
Little Maggie ^
Ballad Of Curtis Loew ^
Meet Me At The Creek ^
Y’all Come ^
$ Royal Masat on lead vocals
^ w/Anders Beck