Billy Strings bridges the gap between country music and jam bands.
While there has always been a bit of a crossover between the two scenes, especially on the bluegrass side of things, jam and country largely appeal to different audiences.
By no means are the two mutually exclusive, and some bands have more crossover appeal than others. I just don’t know that you’d run into too many Phish fans at your average Turnpike concert, or vice versa…
Nevertheless, Billy Strings has been one of the hottest young artists in all of music, selling out venues for multiple nights everywhere he goes. In the process, he’s not only grown his fan bases on both ends of the spectrum, but introduced plenty of country music fans into the jam world. The impact may not be the same the other way around, but he’s still introducing great music to new audiences.
Now, I’m no jam connoisseur. I’m a new fan myself. But over the last couple of years or so I have found myself venturing further into the genre, delving a bit beneath the surface and finding an appreciation for some of these bands that I just didn’t understand the hype about for a while.
Widespread Panic, appealing to my southern rock inclinations, was kind of the first thing that got me looking into other jam bands.
I’d be lying, though, if I didn’t say Billy Strings has done the same for me. With a sound that in my opinion is undeniably country, his heavily improvised solos and extended sets adhere to the sonically diverse taste of jam fans.
With all that being said, everyone needs to check out the videos from Trey Anastasio’s sit-in with Billy Strings. I know this is old news, but for anyone that still hasn’t seen it, it’s pretty awesome, and a big moment for country and jam alike.
For those of you unfamiliar with Anastasio, he’s been the lead guitarist and singer for Phish since he co-founded the band in 1983. With a cult-like following, Phish has been one of the most prominent bands on the jam scene ever since. Just a couple of weeks ago, on June 29th, he did a surprise sit-in with Billy for the last six songs of his set at New York’s Pier 17 rooftop venue.
In front of a sold out crowd of approximately 3,500 fans, Trey and Billy, along with the rest of Billy’s band, jammed out to some bluegrass classics, a couple of Phish favorites, and Billy’s own “Love And Regret” from his latest album Renewal.
Check out the video for yourself, 40 minutes of jam meets bluegrass greatness. Quality isn’t the greatest, but it gets the point across.
Here are the songs they played, too.
“Back on the Train” (Phish)
“Love And Regret” (Billy Strings)
“I’m Blue, I’m Lonesome” (Bill Monroe cover)
“All Fall Down” (John Hartford)
“My Love Comes Rolling Down” (Doc Watson Family cover)
“Gotta Jibboo” (Phish)
And if you liked that, check out this video from Billy’s set at Red Rocks back in May, the night before Turnpike’s two show run. What a weekend.