Photo by Jesse Faatz
Last night, Billy Strings closed out his three-night run at the fabled Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. The musician began the first set with just his band ahead of a five-song sit-in with mandolinist Ronnie McCoury. Then, he welcomed Les Claypool up for a couple of tunes to cap off the show’s first half. Set two brought more surprise guests, including Marty Stuart, and the second appearance by Bobby Weir in two days.
Strings kicked off the first set with a pair of tunes off 2021’s Renewal, “Secrets” and “This Old World,” before pulling out the first cover of the night, a take on Doc Watson’s folk song “The Train That Carried My Girl From Town” into the traditional number, “Black Mountain Rag.” Next, the band continued with the Renewal theme and performed “Love & Regret.”
The first sit-in of the night arrived next; McCoury lent his mandolin skills on a cover of Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys’ “Close By,” followed by a take on The Carter Family’s “Foggy Mountain Top.” McCoury stuck around for Monroe’s “Lonesome Moonlight Waltz” and Strings’ original “Highway Hipnosis.” Then, the duo took a chance on “Dusty Miller.”
The first set continued with a set of covers beginning with Larry Sparks’ “John Deere Tractor” and Danny Barnes’ “Pretty Daughter.” Then, Strings welcomed his friend and seasoned musical titan Claypool to the stage for a couple of tunes. The sit-in started with two Primus covers; first, they unleashed bass-heavy “Over the Falls,” which showcased Claypool’s instrumental ability ahead of rock epic “John the Fisherman.” Then, for the final song of set one, Claypool lent his talent on a cover of John Hartford’s folksy “All Fall Down.”
Set two began with a segued pairing of “Taking Water” off Strings’ fourth studio LP, Home, into and a cover of Frank Wakefield’s “End of the Rainbow.” Next, the band took on The Stanley Brothers’ “Rank Stanger.” The third sit-in of the night came next when Weir took the stage for a fitting Mother’s Day take on “Mama Tried.” The band and their guest performed a monstrous “Dark Star” ahead of Sunday’s speciality “Samson and Delilah.” Then, Weir left the stage, leaving Strings and his band to perform their 2019 title track, “Home.”
Just when it seemed Strings couldn’t possibly have any more tricks up his sleeve, he brought out the fourth guest of the evening. Stuart offered his pristine mandolin skills on the band’s cover of the traditional number, “John Henry.” Strings and the band then paid homage to their guest by covering his tune, “Old Mexico.” Next, the band played Jim and Jesse’s “Air Mail Special” ahead of set ender, “Hide & Seek.”
For the last encore of Strings’ Ryman stand, he welcomed McCoury and Stuart out once more to cover Bill Monroe’s “Rawhide.” Then, Weir also took the stage, and the three guests and the band laid down a touching rendition of The Carter Family’s “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.”
Next up, Strings will take a few days off the road before beginning his double feature at the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colo., on May 12 and 13. Strings’ Rocky Mountain stand will be livestreamed and available for purchase on fans.live.
See the complete setlist below.
View this post on Instagram
Ryman Auditorium– Nashville
May 8, 2022
Set I: Secrets, This Old World, The Train That Carried My Girl From Town > Black Mountain Rag, Love & Regret, Close By*, Foggy Mountain Top*, Lonesome Moonlight Waltz*, Highway Hypnosis*, Dusty Miller*, John Deere Tractor, Pretty Daughter, Over the Falls^, John the Fisherman^, All Fall Down^
Set II: Taking Water, End of the Rainbow, Rank Stranger, Mama Tried#, Dark Star#, Samson and Delilah#, Home, John Henry$, Old Mexico, Air Mail Special, Hide & Seek
Enc.: Rawhide*$, Will the Circle Be Unbroken*$#
* with Ronnie McCoury on mandolin
^ with Les Claypool on bass
# with Bobby Weir on guitar
$ with Marty Stuart