Watch Billy Strings Celebrate Bob Dylan’s Birthday With Cover Debut In Las Vegas
See Billy lead the band through the nine verses of Bob’s “Motorpsycho Nightmare.”
By Nate Todd May 25, 2023 • 10:22 am PDT
Billy Strings hit Las Vegas on Wednesday night, which happened to be Bob Dylan’s 82nd birthday. Billy and his band marked the occasion by debuting Bob’s “Motorpsycho Nightmare” two songs into the second set at Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas.
The first frame got underway with the Flatt & Scruggs version of “Doin’ My Time.” Billy and the band — mandolinist Jarrod Walker, bassist Royal Masat, banjoist Billy Failing and fiddler Alex Hargreaves — then paired up the instrumental “Running The Route” and “Taking Water” from their last two studio albums, 2021’s Renewal and 2019’s Home respectively.
Strings then offered the 2023 debut of “I Only Exist,” a song co-written by Ralph Stanley’s wife Jimmie Stanley. The traditional “Hold That Woodpile Down” followed ahead of Home’s “Watch It Fall.” The instrumental “Libby Phillips Rag” came next along with the George Fairman-penned, Mac Wiseman-popularized oldie “The Preacher & The Bear.”
Next, a cover of Jeff Austin’s “15 Steps” was played before Billy and the band split Renewal cuts “Nothing’s Working” and “Show Me The Door” with the traditional “Sally Goodin.” The first set came to a close with a cover of Jackson Browne’s “Running On Empty,” which included a “Third Stone From The Sun” Jimi Hendrix tease.
Strings launched the second set with Tony Rice’s instrumental “Tipper” followed by John Hartford’s “I’m Still Here.” The covers kept coming, this time a brand new one in the form of Bob Dylan’s “Motorpsycho Nightmare.” The track off the legendary singer-songwriter’s 1964 album Another Side Of Bob Dylan — a sort of Cold War take on the archetypal “Farmer’s Daughter” story — is one of those classic Bob tales which boasts nine verses.
Billy led the band through five of them before dropping into a vamp with fiddler Alex Hargreaves soaring. Billy then reeled off some rapid-fire bluegrass riffage and turned things back over to Hargreaves for some barn-burning fiddle. Strings tied up the tune with the final four verses and said “That’s a Bob Dylan song, Happy Birthday to Bob Dylan” to conclude the number.
Watch Billy Strings debut “Motorpsycho Nightmare” on Bob Dylan’s birthday below:
Billy continued with a mix of covers and originals beginning with the newish original “My Alice” followed by Renewal’s “This Old World.” New Grass Revival’s “Whisper My Name” came next ahead of “I’ve Just Seen The Rock Of Ages,” recorded by both Larry Sparks and Ralph Stanley in the late 1970s. Billy and the band then linked the bluegrass standard “Ernest T. Grass” with Renewal’s “Secrets.”
The trad “Wild Bill Jones” followed before the band embarked on “Meet Me At The Creek,” off Billy’s 2017 album Turmoil & Tinfoil. Strings and company then performed two more Dylan numbers: “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright,” and “Drifter’s Escape.” T&T’s “All Of Tomorrow” counted as the penultimate song of the show as Billy and the band went on to close things out with the standard “Katy Daley.”
Billy Strings’ spring tour continues with a spot at BottleRock Napa festival. Check out his intinerary below:
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Setlist (via BillyBase)
Set One: Doin’ My Time, Running The Route > Taking Water, I Only Exist, Hold That Woodpile Down, Watch It Fall, Libby Phillips Rag, The Preacher & The Bear, 15 Steps, Nothing’s Working, Sally Goodin, Show Me The Door,Running On Empty
Set Two: Tipper, I’m Still Here, Motorpsycho Nightmare, My Alice, This Old World, Whisper My Name, I’ve Just Seen The Rock Of Ages, Ernest T. Grass > Secrets, Wild Bill Jones, Meet Me At The Creek, Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright, Drifter’s Escape, All Of Tomorrow, Katy Daley
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