Billy Strings Offers Cover Debuts In San Diego
Watch Billy perform his staple cover of the Grateful Dead’s “China Doll” and more.
By Nate Todd Apr 17, 2022 • 11:49 am PDT
Billy Strings stopped by San Deigo State University’s Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre on Saturday. The guitarist and his band unveiled a pair of cover debuts to wrap up a West Coast swing on their 2022 spring tour.
Billy and company — mandolinist Jarrod Walker, bassist Royal Masat and banjoist Billy Failing — kicked off the show with the Ralph Stanley-recorded “Katy Daley.” “This Old World” from Strings’ 2021 album Renewal fell in the second slot ahead of two pairings: “Taking Water” and “Running The Route” as well as “Ernest T. Grass” and “Secrets.” The first debut of the evening came in the form of “Born To Be With You,” penned by Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer Don Robertson and first released by the vocal quartet The Chordettes in 1956. J.D. Crowe and The Kentucky Mountain Boys also released the song in 1971.
The rest of the first full-band portion of the set included covers from the Grateful Dead (“China Doll”), The Beatles (“And Your Bird Can Sing”) and J.J. Cale (“Ride Me High”) ahead of “Everything’s The Same.” Billy Strings then returned to a format he offered in Santa Barbara, eschewing a traditional set break for a solo segment. The San Diego version, however, began with Strings and Failing, Dos Billys, performing “Dos Banjos.” Billy then went it alone but stayed on the banjo for just the second performance of “Ol’ Rickard,” which BillyBase notes he wrote when he received his Rickard open back banjo last fall. Strings also delivered traditionals “Reuben’s Train” and “Crawdad Hole” on the banjo.
Billy then picked his guitar back up for a solo bluegrass traditional medley of sorts with “Give The Fiddler A Dram,” “Whistling Rufus,” “Ragtime Annie” and “John Henry” before linking up his own “Guitar Peace” with Pink Floyd’s “Fearless” during which the rest of the band joined back in. The second full-band segment included favorite “Dust In A Baggie” as well as John Hartford’s “All Fall Down” ahead of the debut of “Blue Skies” by famed 20th-century composer Irving Berlin which featured Royal on lead vocals. After a cover of The String Cheese Incident’s “Black Clouds,” Billy Strings closed out the concert with “Wargasm.”
Watch video from last night’s show below:
Setlist (via BillyBase)
Set: Katy Daley, This Old World, Taking Water > Running the Route, Ernest T. Grass > Secrets, Born to Be With You (1), China Doll, Highway Hypnosis, And Your Bird Can Sing, Ride Me High, Everything’s The Same, Dos Banjos (2), Ol’ Rickard (3), Reuben’s Train (3), Crawdad Hole (3), Give The Fiddler A Dram, Whistling Rufus, Ragtime Annie (4), John Henry (4), Guitar Peace (4), Fearless (5), Hollow Heart, Love & Regret, Dust In A Baggie, All Fall Down, Blue Skies (6), Black Clouds, Wargasm
- (1) FTP – The Chordettes
- (2) Dos Billys
- (3) Billy Strings solo on banjo
- (4) Billy Strings solo on guitar
- (5) Band rejoins Billy on stage
- (6) FTP (Irving Berlin)- Royal on vocals
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