Les Claypool, Bob Weir & More Join Billy Strings At The Ryman
Marty Stuart and Ronnie McCoury also sat-in at last night’s Nashville finale.
By Scott Bernstein May 9, 2022 • 7:06 am PDT
Billy Strings closed out a three-night stand of sold-out concerts at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville on Sunday with help from special guests Les Claypool, Bob Weir, Ronnie McCoury and Marty Stuart. The guest-filled finale came after Strings welcomed Bryan Sutton for a mini-set on Friday and Weir for a “Dead Set” on Saturday.
Mandolinist Ronnie McCoury was the first collaborator to emerge last night. Ronnie came out towards the middle of the opening frame to augment Strings and bandmates mandolinist Jarrod Walker, bassist Royal Masat and banjoist Billy Failing on five songs. McCoury’s sit-in started with a take on Bill Monroe’s “Close By,” which was only played by Strings once prior on September 13, 2020 as per BillyBase.
Ronnie McCoury also lent a hand on the traditional songs “Foggy Mountain Trio” and “Dusty Miller,” as well as on the Billy Strings original “Highway Hypnosis” and Monroe’s “Lonesome Moonlight Waltz.” After McCoury left the stage, Walker told the crowd “I learned a lot from a Ronnie McCoury cassette tape, so this is kinda coming full circle for me to play on stage with Ronnie at the Ryman Auditorium.” Strings then dedicated “John Deere Tractor” to his mom on Mother’s Day. A rousing “Pretty Daughter” followed.
After “Pretty Daughter,” Strings talked about how much performing at the Ryman means to him. “It’s awesome to be around here because we have lots more friends,” Billy added. “This next fella has inspired me for years and always has been a big hero of mine and turned out to be a really cool dude,” the guitarist explained before sharing a story of the first time he heard Primus and introducing Les Claypool. Les played an acoustic bass in leading the band through Primus classics “Over The Falls” and “John The Fisherman.” Claypool stuck around for John Hartford’s “All Fall Down” to close the set.
Billy Strings and his band paired “Taking Water” and “End Of The Rainbow” to launch the second set. Next came “Rank Stranger” before Strings invited Bob Weir to the stage. “We had so much fun last night … a blast … and it’s such an honor to share the stage with this fucking legend right here,” Billy told the capacity crowd. The Grateful Dead/Dead & Company guitarist teamed with the quartet on electric for Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried,” the Grateful Dead classic “Dark Star” and the traditional Sunday sermon “Samson And Delilah.”
After the four-piece went it alone for “Home,” they were joined by Marty Stuart for the traditional “John Henry,” Stuart’s “Old Mexico” and a cover of “Airmail Special.” Strings, Masat, Failing and Walker capped the set with an expansive “Hide & Seek.” Last night’s encore started with Stuart and McCoury adding to the band’s first cover of Bill Monroe’s “Raw Hide” since September 13, 2020. Then, Bob Weir joined the six musicians already out on stage for “Will The Circle Be Unbroken,” a traditional tune last played by Strings on December 22, 2018. The encore was performed around a single mic.
See fan-shot videos from last night below:
Will The Circle Be Unbroken
Loading tour dates
Setlist (via BillyBase)
Set One: Secrets, This Old World, The Train That Carried My Girl From Town > Black Mountain Rag, Love & Regret, Close By,  Foggy Mountain Top,  Lonesome Moonlight Waltz,  Highway Hypnosis,  Dusty Miller,  John Deere Tractor, Pretty Daughter, Over the Falls, [2,3,4] John the Fisherman, [2,3,4] All Fall Down 
Set Two: Taking Water > End Of The Rainbow, Rank Stranger, Mama Tried, [5,6] Dark Star, [5,6] Samson & Delilah, [5,6] Home,  John Henry, [8, 9] Old Mexico, [8, 10] Airmail Special, [8,9] Hide & Seek
Encore: Raw Hide [11, 12] Will The Circle Be Unbroken [12,13,14]
-  With Ronnie McCoury (RM) on mandolin
-  With Les Claypool (LC) on bass guitar
-  LC vocals
-  FTP (Primus)
-  With Bob Weir (BW) on electric guitar
-  BW vocals
-  Feel Like a Stranger tease
-  With Marty Stuart (MS) on mandolin
-  BS, MS vocals
-  MS vocals
-  Ronnie McCoury and Marty Stuart on mandolin
-  Single mic
-  Ronnie McCoury and Marty Stuart on mandolin, Bob Weir on acoustic guitar
-  Band with RM, MS, BW on vocals