Billy Strings & Terry Barber Present ‘Family Strings’ In Bay City
Guitarists Billy Strings and his father Terry Barber began a four-night “Family Strings” run of shows with a performance Thursday night at the State Theatre in Bay City, Michigan. Strings played guitar, mandolin and banjo, while Barber played his Martin acoustic guitar that he pawned but got back after Billy purchased it for him.
The father and son shared lead vocal duties, with Barber handling the show-opening “Dig A Little Deeper In The Well” and Strings taking charge of “Tom Dooley.” More Doc Watson compositions were played throughout the set, alongside other bluegrass classics by the likes of Bill Monroe and others. The old-time bluegrass traditional written by Robert Lowry, “Where Is My Wandering Boy Tonight?,” a rarity for Strings, was played in the opening set with Barber singing lead.
Strings played mandolin and sang the second set opener “Foggy Mountain Top.” He stayed on mandolin for the subsequent Barber-led “Kentucky Waltz.” Later he played banjo on Watson’s The Cuckoo.” Set two presented more rarities for Strings, such as Tom Paxton’s “The Last Thing On My Mind,” Monroe Brothers’ “What Would You Give (In Exchange For Your Soul)?,” Bob Willis’ “Steel Guitar Rag,” Henry Reed’s “Frosty Morn” and others.
Strings told the story of tracking down Barber’s pawned Martin, revealing he “took back pop bottles and sold bags of weed” to raise the required $2,100 selling price. He then explained the next song, Larry Sparks’ “John Deere Tractor,” was the first Barber played upon getting his old guitar back. The set also contained more Watson and Monroe covers, as well as takes on tunes by The Stanley Brothers, the Delmore Brothers and Mel Tillis. The encore consisted of an arrangement of The Beatles’ “I Feel Fine.”
The Family Strings run continues tonight in Traverse City, Michigan. A free live stream is avialable from City Opera House beginning at 8:30 p.m. ET. Listen to Thursday’s concert via taper Keith Litzenberger below:
The Cuckoo Captured by Digital Wookie
Setlist (via Billy Strings PT)
Set One: Dig A Little Deeper In The Well, Tom Dooley, On The Southbound, Windy And Warm, Black Mountain Rag, Where Is My Wandering Boy Tonight?, Summertime, Long Journey Home, Big Sandy River, Way Downtown, My Love Come Rollin’ Down, Beaumont Rag
Set Two: Foggy Mountain Top, Kentucky Waltz, Last Day At Gettysburg, The Last Thing On My Mind, Nashville Blues, Steel Guitar Rag, Stone Walls & Steel Bars, What Would You Give (In Exchange For Your Soul)?, The Cuckoo, Frosty Morn, Gonna Lay Down My Old Guitar, Salt Creek, I Haven’t Seen Mary In Years, Let The Cocaine Be, John Deere Tractor, Little Cabin Home On The Hill
Encore: I Feel Fine