Billy Strings Delivers Stirring Musical Tribute To Dickey Betts In St. Augustine

Watch Strings duet with Jarrod Walker on “Little Martha” and a full-band performance of “Ramblin’ Man.”

By Scott Bernstein Apr 22, 2024 8:00 am PDT

Billy Strings continued his spring tour on Friday night with the first of three shows at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre in St. Augustine, Florida. Strings honored the late Dickey Betts at the St. Augustine run opener by devoting the last two songs of the evening to co-founding member of The Allman Brothers Band.

The guitarist’s Friday night concert in St. Augustine came one day after Dickey Betts died at age 80. Billy Strings and bandmates mandolinist Jarrod Walker, bassist Royal Masat, fiddler Alex Hargreaves and banjoist Billy Failing also worked a tribute to banjoist and The Seldom Scene co-founder Ben Eldridge, who passed away on April 14, into the 31-song performance.

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Both tributes formed the encore on Friday. Strings addressed the audience upon returning for the three-song closing sequence. “We’ll do one here for Ben Eldridge,” the guitarist told the capacity crowd after thanking them. The guitarist then led his ensemble through their debut performance of “Wait A Minute” as a picture of Eldridge was displayed on the screen behind the band. Written by Herb Pederson, The Seldom Scene released their version of “Wait A Minute” on the band’s 1974 studio album, Old Train.

Billy Strings and Jarrod Walker followed “Wait A Minute” by sitting at the center of the stage and performing a gorgeous duo version of the instrumental “Little Martha.” The Duane Allman-penned composition was featured on The Allman Brothers Band’s iconic 1972 LP, Eat A Peach. “Little Martha” was last played by Strings 242 shows prior on November 20, 2021.

The rest of the band then reemerged for Strings’ premiere performance of one of Betts’ trademark songs, “Ramblin’ Man.” The Allman Brothers Band issued “Ramblin’ Man” on Brothers and Sisters in 1973. The song peaked at the two-slot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart which made it to the legendary rock band’s lone top 10 single. Billy Strings fit a “Jessica” tease into “Ramblin’ Man” and alternated the “Nashville” lyric to mention “St. Augustine.” An image of Dickey Betts was put up on the screen as the quintet worked through the song.

Watch fan-shot footage of Billy Strings’ tribute to Dickey Betts below:


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Billy Strings began Friday’s show with “Gone A Long Time.” The lengthy first set included a pair of 2023 debuts as original “All Of Tomorrow” and the band’s cover of Bill Monroe’s “Ashland Breakdown” saw action for the first time this year. Among other highlights were the pairing of “Running” and “Running The Route” and a set-closing “Meet Me At The Creek.”

Strings on clawhammer and Failing on five-string banjo opened the second set on Friday by dueting on “Dos Banjos.” The rest of the frame consisted of beloved originals and choice covers. More 2023 debuts were performed in the closing stanza with Strings’ own “Drifting With The Tide” and takes on The Stanley Brothers’ “I Only Exist,” Greensky Bluegrass’ “Reverend” and The Osborne Brothers’ “Ruby” trotted out in St. Augustine.

Billy Strings resumes the tour on Friday to start a two-night stand at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Livestreams of both shows and the rest of Billy Strings’ spring tour can be viewed live or on-demand for free with a nugs.net subscription.

Check out more video from Billy Strings’ Friday night show below:


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Audience Recording (Taped by Z-Man)

Setlist (via BillyBase.net)

Set One: Gone A Long Time, Wild Bill Jones, Red Daisy, Enough To Leave, Cabin Song, All Of Tomorrow, Ashland Breakdown, Running [1] > Running The Route [2] > Hollow Heart, Show Me The Door > Drifter’s Escape, Meet Me At The Creek

Set Two: Dos Banjos [3], This Old World, Freeborn Man, I Only Exist, Long Forgotten Dream, Reverend, Ice Bridges, Drifting With The Tide, Home [4], Home Of The Red Fox > John Hardy, Be Your Man [5], On The Line > Train 45 > Ruby

Encore: Wait A Minute [6] [7], Little Martha [8] [9] [10], Ramblin’ Man [9] [11] [12] [13] [14]

  • [1] – “Presbyterian Guitar” (John Hartford) tease
  • [2] – “Midnight Rider” (Allman Brothers Band) fakeout intro.
  • [3] – Dos Billys on Dos Banjos (Billy Strings on Clawhammer & Billy Failing on 5-String)
  • [4] – Billy Strings on his “Bride” Preston-Thompson D-SBA Custom guitar
  • [5] – “Midnight Rider” (Allman Brothers Band) tease
  • [6] – FTP – The Seldom Scene
  • [7] – Dedicated to Legendary banjo player and The Seldom Scene founding member, Ben Eldridge, who passed away 2024-04-14. Photo of Ben Eldridge on the big screen behind the band
  • [8] – Duo of Billy Strings (guitar) & Jarrod Walker (mandolin) sitting center stage
  • [9] – In Memory of Rock guitar legend Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers Band who passed away 2024-04-18
  • [10] – Last Time Played 2021-11-20 | 242 Shows
  • [11] – FTP – Dickey Betts (Allman Brothers Band)
  • [12] – Photo of Dickey Betts on the big screen behind the band
  • [13] – Lyric change to “I’m leaving out of ol’ St. Augustine”
  • [14] – “Jessica” (Allman Brothers Band) tease
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