Watch Billy Strings Bust Out ‘Travelin’ Man’ For 1st Performance In 12 Years

The unexpected cover was played solo at Tuesday’s concert at The Armory in Minneapolis.

By Andy Kahn May 22, 2024 9:00 am PDT

Billy Strings held a concert Tuesday night at The Armory in Minneapolis. The setlist contained a number of rarities, including Strings’ first known public performance of the song “Travelin’ Man” since 2012.

The sold-out show was packed with fans who before the concert waited in pouring rain in lines wrapping entirely around the historic building. The first set began with Strings going solo as the guitarist opened with “Doc’s Guitar,” playing the Doc Watson song for just the sixth time.

Strings then delivered a solo rendition of “Travelin’ Man,” a song written and recorded by Pink Anderson. According to BillyBase, Tuesday’s cover in Minneapolis was only the second known public performance by Strings, who last played the song on June 7, 2012, making the 1,324 span between appearances among the biggest bust outs of the guitarist’s career.


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

Strings then summoned mandolin player Jarod Walker and the pair got together around a single microphone for “Watson Blues,” which was Strings’ fourth time covering the Bill Monroe tune. A second guitar/mandolin duet followed with the traditional “Feast Here Tonight (Rabbit In A Log).” Bassist Royal Masat and banjo player Billy Failing joined the pair around the single mic for a mostly a cappella “Richard Petty,” marking the sixth time the Strings original has made a setlist.

Assuming their normal stage positions, the musicians were joined by fiddler Alex Hargreaves ahead of a full band run through “Red Daisy.” The instrumental original introduced last year, “Escanaba” teed up a cover of “Miss the Mississippi,” which was performed not far from the banks of the river its lyrics reference.

Strings kept the set rolling by stretching out his original “Hide And Seek” into a lengthy, sprawlingly aggressive jam that saw the guitarist wandering from one side of the stage to the other while the massive video screen displayed a psychedelic eyeball. The visual production was impressive throughout the concert, adding depth and freshness to the presentation – the eyeball being particularly memorable.

Next came another rarely played cover as Hargreaves led the band through “Kissimmee Kid.” Tuesday’s take was the fifth time Strings performed the Vassar Clements instrumental recorded by Old & In The Way. Strings showed off his vocal chops on George Jones’ mournful “Life To Go.”

Strings asked the audience for requests leading to “Walk On Boy,” after turning down a suggestion for Cher’s “Believe.” The band worked up the original “Gone A Long Time” before debuting a cover of Bill Monroe’s “Methodist Preacher.” The instrumental cover premiere segued into “Hollow Heart.” A joyous “End Of The Rainbow” brought the first set to a close.

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A string of Strings originals kicked off the second set, led by a potent pairing of “Taking Water” into “Ice Bridges.” The sweetly reflective “In The Morning Light” settled in after the energetic opening to the set. The band picked up the old-timey instrumental “Cattle In The Cane” before going back to original material via “Know It All.”

Strings and his cohorts then brought the mire to Minneapolis, eliciting a hearty cheer from the Twin Cities audience at the onset of “Away From The Mire.” Strings employed an array of guitar effects during the expansive “Away From The Mire,” again pacing across the stage flanked by a captivating visual of an artistic rendering of a woman’s face emblazoned with “Billy Strings” at the top.


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Billy Strings (See 749 videos)

“Brokeback” kept the original streak going ahead of the bluegrass staple “Katy Daley.” Strings then broke out “Ocean Of Diamonds,” covering the Jimmy Martin popularized song for only the first time since premiering it at the 2023 BottleRock Napa Valley Festival.

The back end of the second set was filled in with additional Strings’ favorites “Love and Regret,” “Wargasm” and “Show Me The Door,” before turning to Bill Monroe’s bluegrass classic “Uncle Pen” for the closer.

Before the encore, Strings introduced his bandmates and thanked the audience for coming out to the show. The guitarist wrapped the intro with some advice for those at The Armory.

“I guess it’s my duty to tell you to keep your stick on the ice, don’t let your meat loaf, keep your shiny side up and if ya ain’t in bed by midnight — come on home,” Strings imparted on the Minnesota crowd.

Strings fired up “Little Maggie” for the encore, capping the fun and well-rounded show. Between the unexpected song selections, dynamic improvisation in both sets and impressive visual accompaniment, the long sold-out show satisfied on all levels.

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Billy Strings’ 2024 Spring Tour continues on Friday, May 24 with the first of two Chicago-area concerts at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. Watch free livestreams of all Spring Tour shows for free with a nugs.net subscription.

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Setlist (via BillyBase)

Set One: Doc’s Guitar [1], Travelin’ Man [1][2], Watson Blues [3][4], Feast Here Tonight (Rabbit In A Log) [3], Richard Petty [5], Red Daisy, Escanaba, Miss The Mississippi And You, Hide and Seek, Kissimmee Kid [6], Life To Go, Walk On Boy [7], Gone A Long Time, Methodist Preacher [8] > Hollow Heart, End Of The Rainbow

Set Two: Taking Water > Ice Bridges, In The Morning Light, Cattle In The Cane, Know It All, Away From The Mire, Bronzeback, Katy Daley, Ocean Of Diamonds, Love and Regret, Wargasm, Show Me The Door, Uncle Pen

Encore: Little Maggie

Notes:

  • [1] Billy Strings solo center stage on single mic
  • [2] Last Time Played 2012-06-07 | 1324 Shows
  • [3] Billy Strings Duo w/ Jarrod Walker center stage on single mic
  • [4] Last Time Played 2023-03-03 | 111 Shows
  • [5] Full band minus Alex center stage on single mic
  • [6] Last Time Played 2023-03-16 | 105 Shows
  • [7] Request from the audience
  • [8] FTP – Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys
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