Billy Strings Premieres ‘Sadie’ Cover In North Carolina

Seethe guitarist unveil the Doc Watson-recorded tune in the late bluegrass legend’s home state.

By Nate Todd Jun 27, 2022 11:05 am PDT

Billy Strings delivered the second of three concerts at Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary, North Carolina near Raleigh on Friday. The guitarist and his band debuted a cover of the Doc Watson-recorded “Sadie” in the late bluegrass legend’s home state.

Billy Strings, bassist Royal Masat, mandolinist Jarrod Walker and banjoist Billy Failing kicked off the show with “The Fire On My Tongue” from String’s 2021 album Renewal before heading into the instrumental “Bronzeback.” Following another Renewal cut, “Hellbender,” Billy and company offered the “Sadie” debut.

“From listening to so much Doc I kinda feel I know what it’s like a little bit to love and appreciate North Carolina,” Billy said. “A lot of great music came from out here.” He then added, “Hey let’s switch gears,” as he and Failing repositioned their capos. “Let’s do that old T. Michael Coleman and Doc. That ‘Sadie’ thing. We were gonna play something else but now we’re gonna play this.” Strings then told a story about seeing the late Doc and Merle Watson as well as the song’s writer and Watson bassist T. Michael Coleman perform the song on an old VHS tape his dad recorded on TV.”

The quartet then jumped into the song with the Billys teaming up for harmonies on the chorus along with solos from Walker and Failing before Billy brought the tune home. Next came “Everything’s The Same,” which boasted a Cary lyric change. “Everything’s The Same” kicked off a three-song section of songs from String’s Grammy-winning 2019 album, Home, including “Away From The Mire” and “Long Forgotten Dream.”

After the Albert E. Brumley-penned, Stanley Brothers-recorded “Rank Stranger” — which Billy credits with rekindling his love for bluegrass — and “Doin’ Things Right” from his 2017 debut LP “Turmoil & Tinfoil,” Strings added a little “Circus Fanfare” to the Bill Monroe instrumental “Southern Flavor” before heading into “Dealing Despair.” “Home” brought the first frame to a close.

The second set got underway with the traditional “Tom Dooley,” which Doc Watson released in 1964, ahead of a pairing of “On The Line” and another staple trad “Train 45.” The second set also saw a covers of the Blackfoot-recorded Shorty Medlocke number “Train, Train” and Black Sabbath’s “Planet Caravan” which flowed into “Wargasm” to cap the second set.

Strings and the band returned for a four-song encore beginning with another Doc Watson traditional adaptation, “And Am I Born To Die?” Next came Jeff Austin’s “Run Down.” Friday marked the three years since Jeff sadly passed away. After a cover of Little Feat’s “Willin,” Billy closed out night two in Cary with the traditional “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down.”

Watch fan-shot video of Billy Strings’ “Sadie” debut below:

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Setlist (via BillyBase)

Set One: The Fire on My Tongue > Bronzeback, Hellbender, Sadie (1), Everything’s the Same (2), Away From the Mire > Long Forgotten Dream, Rank Stanger, Doin’ Things Right, Southern Flavor (3) > Dealin’ Despair, Home

Set Two: Tom Dooley, On the Line > Train 45, Nothing’s Working, Streamline Cannonball, Taking Water, Running, Train, Train (4), Watch It Fall, West Dakota Rose, Secrets, Planet Caravan > Wargasm

Encore: Am I Born to Die?, Run Down, Willin’, Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down


(1) FTP – T. Michael Coleman/Doc Watson

(2) Cary lyric change

(3) Circus Fanfare tease

(4) Shout out for Kristen’s 100th

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