Billy Strings Debuts ‘Blue Ridge Mountain Blues’ Cover In North Carolina

Watch the guitarist show off his harmonica skills on the locale appropriate cover debut at Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary.

By Scott Bernstein Jun 24, 2022 7:58 am PDT

Billy Strings opened a three-night stand at Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary, North Carolina with a debut cover of the traditional “Blue Ridge Mountain Blues.” The geographically appropriate cover was played in the style of Doc Watson, one of the guitarist’s biggest heroes and inspirations.

Strings not only strummed guitar and sang “Blue Ridge Mountain Blues” but he also showed off his harmonica skills. Billy, bassist Royal Masat, banjoist Billy Failing and mandolinist Jarrod Walker followed the cover debut with “This Old World” off their Grammy-nominated 2021 album, Renewal. “This Old World” gave way to the traditional instrumental “Black Mountain Rag” before a “While I’m Waiting Here” featuring teases of “Pyramid Country” and “Hell In Bucket” bled into a take on Johnny Horton’s “Ole Slew-Foot.”


The quartet continued on by pairing Renewal tracks “Show Me The Door” and “Fire Line.” A well-jammed rendition of “End Of The Rainbow” by Frank Wakefield followed along with “Ice Bridges” off Renewal. The four-piece then dug in on “Thunder,” a song featuring lyrics from late Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter. Last night’s “Thunder” spanned over 15 minutes and included wild improvisation that strayed far outside the lines. Strings and his bandmates went on to end the set with the traditional song “Make Me A Pallet On The Floor.”

Billy looked to Renewal to get last night’s second set underway with “Heartbeat Of America” and “In The Morning Light.” Next, the band worked a cover of Widespread Panic’s “All Time Low” featuring “All Apologies” teases into “Raleigh & Spencer.” The group last played the traditional tune back on August 1, 2019 in Gilford, New Hampshire.

Thursday’s closing frame rolled on with live staple “Thirst Mutilator” and a double dose of 2019’s Home in “Hollow Heart” and “Enough To Leave.” After covering Tony Rice’s “Tipper,” Strings led his mates on an expansive “Meet Me At The Creek” that saw the musicians utilize spacey effects at various points of the 19-minute jam vehicle. Walker delivered a stunning solo before Strings set the fretboard ablaze and Failing took the song home with a memorable solo of his own. The night ended sans encore due to the curfew with a stirring take on “Shady Grove.”

Billy Strings returns to Koka Booth Amphitheatre tonight. A free livestream is available for subscribers. Watch pro-shot video featuring the start of Thursday’s concert along with fan-shot video footage of the standout “Meet Me At The Creek” below:

Blue Ridge Mountain Blues, This Old World ~ Black Mountain Rag

Billy Strings (See 97 videos)
Billy Strings (See 719 videos)

Meet Me At The Creek

Billy the Kid (See 20 videos)
Billy Strings (See 719 videos)

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Setlist (via BillyBase)

Set One: Blue Ridge Mountain Blues [1] [2], This Old World > Black Mountain Rag, While I’m Waiting Here [3] [4] > Ole Slewfoot, Show Me The Door, Fire Line > End Of The Rainbow > Ice Bridges, Thunder, Make Me A Pallet On Your Floor

Set Two: Heartbeat Of America, In The Morning Light, All Time Low [5] > Raleigh & Spencer, Thirst Mutilator [6] > Hollow Heart, Enough To Leave, Tipper, Meet Me At The Creek, Shady Grove

  • 1. FTP (Traditional)
  • 2. Billy Strings on harmonica and guitar
  • 3. Pyramid Country intro tease
  • 4. Hell in a Bucket tease
  • 5. All Apologies tease
  • 6. Brain Damage tease
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