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Published: 2017/10/26
by Matt Reed

Billy Strings’ Welcome Turmoil

Meanwhile, the band tears into a blistering version of “Little Maggie,” an Appalachian folk song immortalized by Ralph Stanley. With torn earlobes and an assortment of tattoos, Strings bears a closer resemblance to a contemporary Hells Angel than his early heroes—like Stanley and McCoury—who donned suits for live performances. But it’s exactly this gritty authenticity that sets Strings apart. In a culture that idolizes country performers who likely never saw the dirt roads they so often attempt to glamorize, Strings joins a new wave of artists like Sturgill Simpson telling authentic tales of the haunting, poverty-stricken realities facing most small towns across America in an increasingly post-industrial world. “We’re so lucky, man. I’ve seen some really great, happy stuff,” he explains. “But I’ve also seen some really dark, depressing things… Music is really important. It heals and it gives so much. No matter what you’re going through, there’s probably a song for you.”

As they launch into one of the album’s most ambitious tunes, “Meet Me at the Creek,” the crowd is fully onboard, and it shows. Strings and his bandmates lead viewers into an exploratory realm that brings to mind the album’s covert art: an old farm shed spiraling through outer space. His admiration for the Grateful Dead, and more recently Phish, are on full display as the eccentric improvisation leads back into the song after a 10 minute detour. “I’ve learned to not pigeonhole myself to just bluegrass. Music is so boundary-less; it’s a language,” Strings later mused after the show.

Recorded in Michigan with Glenn Brown, the producer of several Greensky Bluegrass albums, Turmoil and Tinfoil is destined to solidify Strings’ seat at the bluegrass table. “All of the guys in the band played their asses off,” Strings said, barely able to contain his excitement. “It’s my first album of all original tunes, and there are a lot of special guests on it.” Those special guests include some of his beloved East Nashville neighbors, including Miss Tess, Molly Tuttle, John Mailander, Shad Cobb, Peter Madcat Ruth, Bryan Sutton, and best of all, his father, who lends vocals on the Peter Rowan-esque “These Memories of You.”

Reflecting on the good fortune of his musical path thus far, Strings remembers, “When my dad showed me David Grisman, I was seven years old. He said, ‘Alright, sit down and listen to this. This is David Grisman—you need to know this.’ And then years later, I was able to say, ‘Alright dad, sit down. Meet David Grisman.’ And then we sang all night.” In addition to Grisman, Strings has already shared the stage with a slew of other childhood heroes, including Sam Bush, Larry Keel and Del McCoury.

As the band shuffles offstage, members of Whiskey Shivers (the band currently on tour with Billy Strings) jump up to the microphone to applaud Strings. “Here’s to the man of the hour,” banjoist James Bookert shouts to the crowd. “Or as we like to call him in bluegrass, the future. ”

Billy Strings Tour Dates

2017

October 26 Bend, OR—Volcanic Theatre Pub
October 27 Wow Hall—Eugene, OR
October 28 Revolution Hall—Portland, OR
October 31 San Francisco, CA—Bottom Of The Hill
November 1 Los Angeles, CA—The Echo
November 3 San Diego, CA—Soda Bar
November 4 Phoenix, AZ—Last Exit Live
November 5 Albuquerque, NM—The Dirty Bourbon Dance Hall
November 8 Boulder, CO—Fox Theatre
November 9 Boulder, CO—Fox Theatre
November 10 Denver, CO—Bluebird Theater
November 11 Denver, CO—Bluebird Theater
November 12 Denver, CO—Globe Hall
November 24 Grand Rapids, MI—The Intersection
November 25 Mancelona, MI—Mt. Mancelona
November 26 Ann Arbor, MI—The Ark
December 8 Brookfield, WI—Wilson Center
December 9 Stoughton, WI—Stoughton Opera House
December 14 Lexington, KY—The Burl
December 16 Martinsville, VA—Rives Theater
December 29 Chicago, IL—The Riviera Theatre
December 30 Chicago, IL—The Riviera Theatre
December 31 Chicago, IL—The Riviera Theatre

2018

January 26, 2018 New York, NY—Playstation Theater
January 27, 2018 New York, NY—Playstation Theater
January 31, 2018 Munhall, PA—Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall
February 1, 2018 Philadelphia, PA—The Fillmore Philadelphia
February 2, 2018 Washington, DC—9:30 Club
February 3, 2018 Washington, DC—The Anthem
April 12, 2018 Las Vegas, NV—Bender Jamboree
April 13, 2018 Las Vegas, NV—Bender Jamboree
April 14, 2018 Las Vegas, NV—Bender Jamboree
April 15, 2018 Las Vegas, NV—Bender Jamboree

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