Billy Strings

Show Review: Billy Strings at Hartford Amphitheater

Show Reviews

Billy Strings Hartford HealthCare Amphitheater, Bridgeport, CT, July 21, 2023

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In 2014 I began hearing musings about a young bluegrass flat picker named Billy Strings. Stories circulated about his family’s troubled past and String’s own struggles with drugs and alcohol. These anecdotes only elevated the myth. YouTube videos revealed a twenty one year old delivering bluegrass at a pedal to the metal intensity. Strings was playing traditional bluegrass music at an intensity not seen in someone his age. In time the accolades came streaming in. All along Strings played a full calendar of performances. He seemed to play at every festival each summer. His popularity grew to an intensity unknown to his contemporary bluegrass musicians. String’s phenomenal rise has led him to perform at venues such as the Hartford HealthCare Amphitheater, in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

The 5000+ seat venue’s audience demonstrated the wide breadth of String’s fans. Bikers, hippies, bluegrass fanatics, alt-country music fans, and your average everyday music lover mingled together. Just after 8 pm Strings took the stage and the crowd was ready to rage. Strings routine is to play two sets and change the setlist from night to night. Every show is individually tailored by the band. Friday night in Bridgeport was no exception. Strings led the night’s performance with “The Fire On My Tongue” straight into “Know It All.” Strings and his four-piece band, Billy Falling (vocals/banjo), Jarrod Walker (vocals/mandolin), Royal Masat (vocals/bass), Alex Hargreaves (fiddle) were off to the races. For the third song the ensemble covered Jimmy Driftwood’s “Tennessee Stud.” Other highlights of the first set included fan favorite jam-packed “Dust In A Baggie,” “Heartbeat of America,” “In The Morning Light,” and “Dust In A Baggie.”

Billy’s endless guitar shredding continued throughout the second set and his bandmates were not letting up either. The second set started with a bang as they launched into “Taking Water”. Each member of his band was given multiple times to shine, each getting a chance to flaunt their skills. As a whole the night was light on covers until Strings combined John Hartford’s “I’m Still Here,” The Monkees “Last Train To Clarksville,” Black Sabbath’s “Planet Caravan,” and David Grismon’s E.M.D. For over thirty minutes the band demonstrated that besides being a bluegrass act, they could dabble in pop, psychedelic rock and folk music. Other highlights included his latest, “California Sober,” which was recorded with Willie Nelson, and the set ending combination of “Red Daisy” and “On The Line” performed at a breakneck speed.

The band returned to the stage and the always humble Strings made a point to thank the crowd for their support and devotion. He wished the audience his best and hoped they would get together once again. The band then ripped into a cover of Arlie Duff’s “Y’All Come” to complete a spectacle of twenty six songs performed for over two and one half hours. The exceptionally talented band played like seasoned veterans which translated to the audiences big smiles and full hearts.

Billy Strings will be playing throughout the northeast, winding up at the Newport Folk Festival.The band will spend August in Europe and return to the United States with a string of dates.

Enjoy our previous coverage here: Show Review: Billy Strings at the Moody Center

Set 1
The Fire On My Tongue > Know It All, Tennesse Judd (Jimmy Driftwood), Long Forgotten Dream, All of Tomorrow, Turmoil & Tinfoil, This Old World, Heartbeat of America, In The Morning Light, West Dakota Rose (Chris Henry), 99 Years Is Almost For Life (Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs), Dust In A Baggie
Set 2
Taking Water > Running, My Alice, California Sober, Ole Slew Foot (Johnny Horton), Show Me The Door, I’m Still Here (John Hartford) > Last Train To Clarksville (The Monkees) > Planet Caravan (Black Sabbath) > E.M.D. (The David Grisman Quintet), Nothings Working, Red Daisy > On The Line, Train 45 (Traditional), Encore: Y’all Come (Arlie Duff)


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