Billy Strings (William Apostol, Royal Masat on bass, Jarrod Walker on mandolin, Billy Failing on banjo) left out on the HOME tour 2+ months ago as one of the hottest emerging names in jamgrass. After the Saturday night tour finale at the Madison Theater in Covington, KY, they’ll go back home as one of the biggest names on the entire jam scene. The tour that saw nearly all sold out venues was a victory lap for the sophomore album HOME (Rounder Records) – a genre-bending psychedelic romp that displayed the mature songwriting and improvisational prowess that made Billy Strings tickets elusive all fall. Saturday night’s show was a microcosm of the tour, as the group’s first set shined equally from HOME material – including a standout spacetrip in “Away From the Mire” – as it did from covers like the traditional “Shady Grove.” penultimate “Ride Me High” (Widespread Panic), and set-closing “And Your Bird Can Sing” (The Beatles). Conversely, the final set of the tour relied on older material like “Slow Train.” fan-favorite “Thirst Mutilator,” and the Billy Failing-led “So Many Miles.” The latter was one of several moments in the night in which Failing brought the energy in the packed room to a fever pitch with his frenetic and tension-building banjo work. In a nod to the Bluegrass State, Bill Monroe’s “Blue Moon of Kentucky” set up a set-closing “Turmoil & Tinfoil” that gave Billy one final chance to bounce around the stage, thrash the heavy interlude, and put an exclamation point on the tour with his trademarked heavy metal-meets-bluegrass guitar work.
As it did on several nights of the tour, the band used the stripped down final song on HOME, “Freedom,” to cap off the night. The Hartford-esque tune had the band huddled around a single mic to belt out the four part harmonies and eased them into an arm-in-arm bow out for the night and tour.
Next up for Billy Strings are year-ending dates in Michigan and a short run (so far) in the spring headlined by two nights at the legendary Capitol Theater in Port Chester, NY.
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