He’s an ever-flowing creator of string-heavy, sonically adventurous music that is responsible for leading the charge in bringing the tradition of bluegrass back to the forefront of country music. While he occupies a special place at the zenith of the genre, there are plenty of other incredibly talented bluegrass musicians that are doing more than their fair share in advancing bluegrass music as well.
One of those musicians, legendary banjoist Tony Trischka, has employed the talents of Billy Strings as a featuring artist on an unexpected single titled “Brown’s Ferry Blues,” an incredible cover of a tried and true bluegrass classic that has withstood the test of time for over 70 years at this point.
The the duet, Trischka says:
“This song was written by Alton and Rabon Delmore and recorded by them in 1933. I heard Earl play it backstage at a show in Missouri in 2010. He had his banjo tuned to double C— that’s g, C, D, C, D—and as far as I know, he’d never used this tuning on a studio or live recording.
In the various jams with John Hartford that inspired this album, however, he always played it in standard G tuning, which is the setting you’ll hear here.”
Check out the duo’s brand new single here:
“Brown’s Ferry Blues” is so old and steeped in bluegrass tradition that it’s origins are disputed and up for debate, but it seems as if it was originally released in 1931 by The Delmore Brothers, and perhaps made more popular by one of bluegrass’ most influential and legendary artists Doc Watson when he released his version of the tune a couple of years later.
Billy Strings frequently covers the bluegrass standards in his heavily improvised, jam-heavy manner during his live shows, and according to Setlist.fm, he has paid homage to the genre’s forefathers with “Brown’s Ferry Blues” at nearly 30 shows throughout his career, including as recently as October 2023 at a show in Stateline, Nevada.
For those who are not familiar with Tony Trischka, he is a Syracuse, NY native who has been a mainstay on the bluegrass scene for roughly five decades as one of the genre’s top banjo pickers. He’s played alongside many of the greats throughout his career, and has shared the stage with Billy Strings on many occasions. So it’s only right that the two have finally teamed up together on a classic tune.
While this feature on Tony Trischka’s cover of “Brown’s Ferry Blues” is Billy’s latest release, he also recently released the official live recording of his “Meet Me at the Creek / Pyramid Country / Must Be Seven / Meet Me at the Creek” jam from his 3/4/2023 show at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem, North Carolina to streaming platforms, in tandem with an announcement of an upcoming live album.
This particular show was in conjunction with a posthumous 100th birthday celebration of the aforementioned legendary Doc Watson, and it was a bluegrass weekend for the ages. I was fortunate enough to have been in attendance at these shows, so I can speak from experience in saying that this 38 minute stretch was an unparalleled force of nature that you likely needed to experience in person to grasp its magnitude.
Nevertheless, I encourage that you indulge in Billy Strings’ masterful performance below. Proceed at your own risk.