Billy Strings goes wire-to-wire in marathon return to Ryman Auditorium

By Matt Wickstrom

Billy Strings. Photo by Emma Delevante

Admit it, you’ve been missing live music. Heck, we all have! Luckily, Billy Strings was able to oblige with a two hour-long Sunday night sermon livestream from the Ryman Auditorium, the Mother Church of Country Music, that cleansed both the body and minds of listeners growing restless and weary during the pandemic.

Joined by fiddler John Mailander, who recorded on all tracks for both Turmoil & Tinfoil and Home, throughout the marathon performance that began with “Bronzeback,” a newly penned instrumental by Strings making it’s debut in his live show, before a masterful segue saw the fast-paced jam come to an abrupt, yet smooth halt as the band transitioned into “Must Be Seven.”

Traditional tune “Likes Of Me” followed with Strings’ foot-stomping party anthem “Dust In A Baggie” next in line. “While I’m Waiting Here” came next, with the song featuring an extended breakdown spearheaded by the enchanting and whimsical fiddle of Mailander and later the fuzzy electric riffs firing out of Strings’ manipulated acoustic before reversing course and coming back to the conclusion of the song.

Then, for much of the remainder of the show, Billy and the boys turned back the clock starting with a rendition of Dan Tyminski and Ronny Bowman’s “Ernest T. Grass” that featured jams more out of this world than a NASA satellite prior to moving into Howard Crockett and James C. Webb’s “Ole Slewfoot” and Larry Sparks’ “John Deere Tractor.”

The band then returned to their own library of songs for “Hollow Heart” and “Turmoil & Tinfoil,” the later of which featured an instrumental even more haunting than normal with the presence of Mailander on fiddle that was fitting for the Halloween season.

After the two songs Strings ushered the band away, taking on the next few songs solo as he returned to refreshing stories from yesteryear including Dock Boggs’ “Country Blues” on clawhammer banjo along with Eva Davis’ “Wild Bill Jones,” Doc Watson’s “Give Me Back My 15 Cents” and traditional instrumental “Beaumont Rag,” with the final three being played from Strings’ guitar.

The artist then welcomed his bandmates back to the stage, turning the psychedelic jamgrass vibes up to full blast in the Ryman on the Bill Emerson instrumental “Home Of The Red Fox” that moved into the Stanley Brothers’ “Little Maggie,” which put the breathtaking howls of Strings, which rival those of bluegrass legend Del McCoury, under the spotlight.

Strings and company then closed out their non-stop two hour show with a cover of the popular Mother Love Bone, and later Pearl Jam, hit “Crown Of Thorns,” which segued into the finale “Away From The Mire.”

The concert will remain on demand for those who purchased it in advance on Mandolin through Nov. 1 at 10 p.m. ET (9 p.m. CT).

Billy Strings 10/25/2020 at Ryman Auditorium (Nashville, TN)

Bronzeback —>
Must Be Seven
Likes Of Me
Dust In A Baggie
While I’m Waiting Here
Ernest T Grass —>
Ole Slewfoot
John Deere Tractor
Hollow Heart
Turmoil & Tinfoil
Country Blues [1]
Wild Bill Jones [2]
Give Me Back My 15 Cents [2]
Beaumont Rag [2]
Home Of The Red Fox —>
Little Maggie
Crown Of Thorns —>
Away From The Mire

[1] Billy Strings performing solo on clawhammer banjo
[2] Billy Strings performing solo on guitar
Entire show with John Mailander on fiddle

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