A 10-Song Introduction To The Young Bluegrass Phenom, Billy Strings

Billy Strings country music
Joshua Black Wilkins

Billy Strings should not need an introduction anymore.

I mean, the man was playing on the damn Grammys  this year. Granted, his performance was segue into a commercial, but still, the man is making waves beyond the world of bluegrass and country music.

But if you’ve been living under a rock, he is the Michigan born bluegrass star who might be one of the greatest flatpickin’ guitar players in the world right now. Not to mention the guy can write and sing like nobody’s business, too.

Introduced to bluegrass at a young age by his stepfather, a bluegrass musician himself, Billy Strings grew up around bluegrass and folk music, listening to the likes of Doc Watson, Bill Monroe, and more. He is also a fan of heady jam bands like Grateful Dead, Phish, and Widespread Panic, and played in metal bands in his younger years.

Billy Strings has formed all of these influences into a special, unique type of music that no one in the world is playing quite like he does. His genre-bending music draws fans and audiences from different realms of the music world, all of whom can come together at his shows to appreciate his prodigious guitar picking, country music fans or not. He is great for the genre.

Over the years, as he has quickly become one of the brightest stars in country music, Billy Strings has released four albums, an ep, and a number of singles. His most recent release, 2021’s Renewal, was one of the best albums of the year.

The Grammy Award winning artist is already selling out massive venues and playing shows alongside some of the best musicians to ever do it, and he’s only 29 years old. His career is just getting started.

If you are not familiar with much of his music, here are ten of my favorites to get you started. Give them a listen, you won’t be disappointed.

10.”Turmoil & Tinfoil – Turmoil & Tinfoil (2017)

9. “Fire Line” – Renewal (2021)

8. “Must Be Seven” – Home (2019)

7. “Know It All” – Renewal (2021)

6. “Watch It Fall” – Home (2019)

5. “Meet Me at the Creek” – Turmoil & Tinfoil (2017)

“Well the river run all night
Lord, the river runs all day
I can’t run no more ’cause I’m here to stay
I had an eye for trouble
And I’ve lived a life of pain
I sit back and let that water heal my brain

I’m letting go of all my trouble
I think I’ll be right here to stay
Well the water keeps a-churnin’ while my poor heart is burnin’
Muddy water, take my pain away.”

4. “In The Morning Light” – Renewal (2021)

3. “Taking Water” – Home (2019)

2. “Dust in a Baggie” – Billy Strings – EP (2016)

This life of sin has got me in
Well it’s got me back in prison once again
I used my only phone call to contact my daddy
I got twenty long years for some dust in a baggie

Sometimes I sit and wonder where my little life went wrong
These old jailhouse blues have got me singing this old song
My life is a disaster, Lord and I feel so ashamed
In here where they call by a number, not a name.”

1. “Away From the Mire” – Home (2019)

“Spring lied to us this year again
I can’t stand to face the fear again
You could always laugh about those things
It’s enough to make a man feel sour
Burning minutes every day by the hour
Just to end up gone like everything else.”

Billy Strings covering Post Malone’s “Circles” with Sierra Hull might be one of my favorite videos on the internet.

Go listen to Billy Strings, and check out a concert if you can. I have heard his live performances are unmatched.

Looking forward to seeing him for the first time at Red Rocks in May, the day before the Turnpike Troubadours play… talk about an all-time weekend.

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