Billy Strings’ ‘Wharf Rat’ Wins March Madness Live Covers Tournament Championship 2021

By Team JamBase Apr 5, 2021 1:31 pm PDT

After starting with 32 competitors, Billy Strings and his cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Wharf Rat” won the championship of the JamBase March Madness Live Covers Tournament 2021, powered by the JamBase Live Video Archive (JBLVA). Strings defeated runner-up Tedeschi Trucks Band with Trey Anastasio covering Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing.”

The tournament began with Round 1 featuring head-to-competition between different performances of the same cover song, with Strings defeating Yo La Tengo with William Tyler, Steve Gunn and Fred Armisen’s cover of “Wharf Rat” with a commanding 84% of the vote. Round 2 saw Strings beating Ween’s cover of David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” with 65% of the votes cast. Round 3 was a bit closer as Strings knocked out My Morning Jacket’s cover of Prince’s “Purple Rain” with 54% of the vote total.

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The Final Four came down to TTB and Trey’s Hendrix cover versus Frank Zappa’s cover of The Allman Brothers Band’s “Whipping Post” in one matchup and Phish’s cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Boogie On Reggae Woman” taking on Strings and Dead cover in the other matchup. With 57% of voters selecting Strings, his “Wharf Rat” took down Phish to make it to the finals against “Little Wing.” The final tally saw Strings command 54% of the votes cast in the March Madness Live Covers Championship Round, sealing the win.

Strings’ winning performance was his first-time cover “Wharf Rat.” The debut took place as the second song of the second set on January 18, 2020, at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York — the same venue where the Dead debuted “Wharf Rat” and four other new originals on February 18, 1971. Strings played guitar and sang lead while backed by bassist Royal Masat, mandolinist Jarrod Walker and banjo player Billy Failing on tune written by Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia.

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Strings continues to cover “Wharf Rat,” including at his Sunday, April 4 show in South Carolina. Watch the JamBase March Madness Live Covers Tournament 2021 winning performance of the Grateful Dead’s “Wharf Rat” by Billy Strings below:


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Billy Strings (See 97 videos)
Billy Strings (See 749 videos)
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March Madness

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