Photo Credit: Jesse Faatz

Last night, Billy Strings kicked off a three-night stand at Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary, N.C., by debuting a cover of the traditional number, “Blue Ridge Moutain Blues.” The tune was performed in the style of Doc Watson, a geographically fitting ode, considering the locational proximity to the bluegrass great’s birthplace. 

For the night’s debut, Strings took the stage with his guitar in hand, strumming the fabled chords and crooning: “When I was young and in my prime/ I left my home in Caroline/ Now all I do is sit and pine/ For all the folks I left behind.” The cover also featured Strings’ on the harmonica, making for an epic opening number on the band’s first night in Cary, N.C.

After “Blue Ridge Moutain Blues” was performed, Strings and his band–Royal Masat (bass), Billy Failing (banjoist) and Jarrod Walker (mandolinist)–dug into a “The Old World” off 2021’s Renewal. Next, the band played the traditional instrumental, “Black Mountain Rag,” which gave way to “While I’m Waiting Here,” with a tease of “Pyramid Country.” A cover of Johnny Horton’s “Ole Slew Foot” came before “Show Me the Door” and “Fire Line.”

The band performed a jammed-out rendition of Frank Wakefield’s “End of the Rainbow” before a take on “Ice Bridges.” Then, Strings paid his respects to the great lyricist Robert Hunter on what would have been the artist’s 81st birthday with a cover of “Thunder,” which was played in illustrious fashion, spanning over 15-minutes. Finally, strings and company landed on a cover of the traditional “Make Me a Pallet on the Floor” to cap their first set. 

Set two got underway with a pairing off Renewal, “Heartbeat of America,” and “In the Morning Light.” Next, Strings performed a take on Widespread Panic’s “All Time Low” with a tease of “All Apologies” going into the traditional “Raleigh and Spencer.” “Thirst Mutilator” arrived next and bled into “Hollow Heart,” followed by “Enough to Leave.” 

The closing set continued with a take on Tony Rice’s “Tipper,” followed by a stunning 19-minute jammed-out take on “Meet Me at the River,” a tune off Turmoil & Tinfoil. Then, for the final song of Strings’ first night at Koka Booth Amphitheatre, he performed the impressive traditional number, “Shady Grove.” Unfortunately, no encores were played due to the venue’s strict curfew. 

Stings will continue his summer tour this evening, performing a second night at Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary, N.C.

Check out photos from last night’s performance, captured by Jesse Faatz.

Billy Strings 

Koka Booth Amphitheatre – Cary, N.C.

June 23, 2022 

Set 1: Blue Ridge Mountain Blues*, The Old World > Black Mountain Rag, While I’m Waiting Here > Ole Slew-Foot, Show Me The Door, Fire Line > End of the Rainbow > Ice Bridge, Thunder, Make Me a Pallet on the Floor 

Set II: Heartbeat of America, In the Morning Light, All Time Low > Raleigh & Spencer, Thirst Mutilator > Hollow Heart, Enough to Leave, Tipper, Meet Me at the Creek, Shady Grove 


* Debut