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Billy Strings Gets Back To Blazing Bluegrass Basics At Atlanta Weekend Opener [Photos/Videos]

billy strings gets back to blazing bluegrass basics at atlanta weekend opener photos videos

Billy Strings brought his insanely tight band into Atlanta, GA’s State Farm Arena last night for two sets of lightning-in-a-bottle bluegrass. After the previous weekend’s magnificent Nashville run of arena fireworks and their stellar grunge-laden homage to Nirvana‘s legendary MTV Unplugged special at the historic Ryman Auditorium, it was time for Billy and the boys to get back to basics in a way only they can. Ripping through two sets of red-hot bluegrass, Strings and company showed just how relentless they could be with a blink-and-you-missed-it whirlwind two-set showcase of sound, speed, and fury.

The space-y, beatific opening notes of “Hollow Heart” got things cooking and served as the perfect slow ramp into the fierce jams to come. The breakdown in the middle gave a heart to “Heart” while also allowing everyone on the stage a chance to get their fingers, picks, and bows warmed up before Billy did his hummingbird thing as they flowed on into “Blackberry Blossom”. After a quick post-song “Boy howdy!” the band put the pedal to the metal and shifted into gear to the crowd’s delight.

Strings speedily reeled off “Must Be Seven” and “Secrets” before slowing down to a relatively sane pace for a mournful “Hellbender” that offset the high-energy string of opening tunes nicely. Five-string banjo machine Billy Failing kicked off a rollicking “I’ll Remember You, Love, In My Prayers” that barely paused before Ralph Stanley‘s “In My Dreams” came and went. “On The Line” and “Train 45” kept the momentum going and Mac Wiseman‘s “The Baggage Coach Ahead” didn’t break stride. Fleet-fingered mandolin maven Jarrod Walker got a bit of a spotlight on “New Camptown Races” before the furious fiddler Alex Hargreaves got some space to operate on the “Unwanted Love” that followed.

The always menacing “My Alice” served as a dark prelude to the lilting instrumental intricacies of “Escanaba”, to which low-end master Royal Massat gave a soul that was most welcome after all the high-frequency high wire fireworks. Changing up the tempos for a quick but helpful breather, the band strayed into waltz territory during the Larry Sparks-penned “John Deere Tractor”.

With every player having gotten a turn to show what they had under the hood, the set closing take on Alabama‘s “Dig A Little Deeper In The Well” gave the full band all a chance to blend their respective talents into the most complete jam of the first set. The mandolin and guitar doubling by Strings and Walker was absolutely stunning, while Failng’s banjo rolls matched up with Hargreaves’ fiddle sawing perfectly. Their shredding showcases showed how well the band’s pistons can fire in unison.

As if Billy himself was a lil tired after the light-speed-paced first set, the second soiree set off with a seated Strings still tossing off fiery fretboard pyrotechnics on “Cocaine Blues”. “I Told Them All About You” got the remainder of the energy left from the opening outburst before Strings switched it up and broke out his banjo for a speedy pairing with one from Dock Boggs, “Country Blues”.

Rising from his chair, a still banjo-wielding Strings was joined by five-string phenom Failing for the aptly named “Dos Banjos”. The remaining members of the band returned for a richer-for-the-rest standalone take on “Running The Route” that quickly warmed their fingers up for the fun to come. Failing then got a chance to stretch out his vocal chops as he took the lead on his own composition, “So Many Miles”.

“Miles” saw the first real expressive guitar freakout from a suddenly psychedelic Strings. Taking the welcome opportunity to sneak in a tease of the instantly recognizable lead line from Allman Brothers Band‘s “Jessica”, he then ratcheted up to warp speed with “Dealing Despair”. The crowd even got a turn at singing, finishing up “Love And Regret” for an appreciative Billy. Strings sounded truly moved when he complimented their contribution with a heartfelt, “You folks sound beautiful.”

The String Cheese Incident’s “Black Clouds” came in on the wind and blew straight on out again into the night sky. The band then united their voices on an a capella intro for the set-closing hometown fave, “My Little Georgia Rose ”. Gathering around a center mic for a little audience participation, Strings took a moment to call out the master of sound, Andy Lytle, before delivering a Hot Rize-inspired rendition of “Standing In The Need of Prayer”.

Finally, after wrapping up the electrifying evening with a pleasantly presented ode to speed king “Richard Petty”, Strings and his band wearily departed to rest up and do it all again Saturday night. With four days off since their last show, Billy Strings and his band clearly got some much-needed rest, topped off their collective tank, and hit the Atlanta weekend opener at full speed. At their collectively young age, they should have plenty left in the tank to blow the doors off Saturday’s show to clsoe the southern leg of their winter tour.

Check out photos and videos from Billy Strings at Atlanta’s State Farm Arena below. The full show is available to stream via nugs.net. For a full list of the band’s upcoming tour dates and to purchase tickets, visit Billy Strings’ website.

Billy Strings – “Hollow Heart > “Blackberry Blossom” (Traditional) – 3/1/24


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Setlist: Billy Strings | State Farm Arena | Atlanta, GA | 03.01.24

Set 1: Hollow Heart > Blackberry Blossom (Traditional), Must Be Seven > Secrets, Hellbender, I’ll Remember You, Love, In My Dreams (Ralph Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Boys), On The Line > Train 45 (Traditional), The Baggage Coach Ahead (Mac Wiseman), New Camptown Races > Unwanted Love, My Alice, Escanaba, John Deere Tractor (Larry Sparks), Dig A Little Deeper In The Well (Oak Ridge Boys)

Set 2: Cocaine Blues (Traditional), I Told Them All About You (Cliff Friend), Country Blues (Dock Boggs), Dos Banjos, Running The Route > So Many Miles > Dealing Despair, Love And Regret, Black Clouds (The String Cheese Incident), My Little Georgia Rose (Bill Monroe)

Encore: Standing In Need Of Prayer (Hot Rize), Richard Petty

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Source: L4LM.com