Billy Strings Dusts Off ‘Rocky Raccoon’ & ‘House Of The Rising Sun’ In New Orleans
The band also debuted a cover of Dave Evans' "Call Me Long Gone."
Guitarist Billy Strings busted out covers of The Beatles’ “Rocky Raccoon” and the traditional “House Of The Rising Sun” during his Tuesday night concert in New Orleans. Strings and his band’s first of two sold-out concerts at The Civic Theatre was also highlighted by their debut take on “Call Me Long Gone” by Dave Evans and a +20-minute “Hide & Seek.”
The quartet featuring Billy Strings, bassist Royal Masat, mandolinist Jarrod Walker and banjoist Billy Failing opened with the location-appropriate Doc Watson cover “Crawdad Hole.” Strings then led the group through the beloved “Dust In A Baggie” before a performance of “Hellbender” from Billy’s Grammy-nominated 2021 album, Renewal and a quick romp through “Slow Train.”
Last night’s first set continued with a 33-minute “Thunder”/”Pyramid Country” pairing. The former features words by Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter to which Strings wrote music. The guitarist utilized a dirty and distorted tone for a stellar solo within “Thunder” while “Pyramid Country” included a particularly psychedelic jam. Just as “Pyramid Country” peaked, the band dropped into “Must Be Seven,” the evening’s lone song from 2019’s Home. It was then back to Renewal for “Know It All.” Next, the four-piece played “Rocky Raccoon” for the first time since September 26, 2020 — a span of 89 shows. The traditional “Train On The Island” capped the set.
The Billy Strings premiere of “Call Me Long Gone,” the title track from Dave Evans And River Bend’s 1980 studio album, got Tuesday’s second set underway. Strings and company then performed the instrumental “Bronzeback,” Turmoil & Tinfoil standout “While I’m Waiting Here” and a double dose of Renewal in the form of “Hide & Seek” and “Love & Regret.” The former was the improvisational highlight of the night and saw the band explore various jam spaces over nearly 22 minutes.
Strings went on to pull from the Grateful Dead’s live repertoire with a gorgeous take on “Dark Hollow” and the band’s fourth “Dark Star” cover. The adventurous “Dark Star” gave way to a rousing rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Tangled Up In Blue.” Last night’s second set concluded with “Ol’ Slewfoot.” Billy Strings then went with “House Of The Rising Sun” as the evening’s encore. The song about New Orleans hadn’t been performed by the guitarist and his band since January 24, 2020 — a span of 127 shows. Billy Strings returns to The Civic Theatre in New Orleans tonight.
Watch fan-shot video footage of last night’s “House Of The Rising Sun” and “Dark Star” below:
Setlist (via PT Billy Strings)
Set One: Crawdad Hole > Dust In A Baggie, Hellbender, Slow Train, Thunder > Pyramid Country  > Must Be Seven > Know It All, Rocky Raccoon, Train On The Island
Set Two: Call Me Long Gone , Bronzeback, While I’m Waiting Here, Hide & Seek, Love & Regret, Dark Hollow , Dark Star > Tangled Up In Blue > Ol’ Slewfoot
Encore: House Of The Rising Sun
-  – Death Trip tease
-  – Debut, Dale Evans
-  – Dedicated to Uncle John