Michigan Magic: Billy Strings & Brian Oberlin Join Greensky Bluegrass In Grand Rapids

Watch Strings add to “I’d Probably Kill You,” “Demons,” “Hot Dogs (On Parade)” and more.

By Scott Bernstein Jun 10, 2024 7:22 am PDT

Greensky Bluegrass returned to their home state of Michigan last night for a concert in Grand Rapids. The show turned into a celebration of the Wolverine State as fellow Michiganders guitarist Billy Strings and mandolinist Brian Oberlin each sat in with the jamgrass band on Sunday at Frederik Meijer Gardens.

Billy Strings, who credits Greensky Bluegrass for mentoring him and helping him understand how far he could expand on traditional bluegrass, accompanied the band for the bulk of the second set. Strings also came back to help Greensky Bluegrass close out the night in Grand Rapids.

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Mandolinist Paul Hoffman fronted the fun “Who Is Frederico?” to launch the first set. After a run connecting fairly recent numbers “Wish I Didn’t Know” and “New & Improved,” the quintet gave fans an oldie in “Old Barns.” Brian Oberlin of acclaimed Mitten-based band then became GSBG’s first guest of the evening. Oberlin added his mandolin to a version of “Take Cover” off the 2016 Greensky album, Shouted, Written Down & Quoted sung by guitarist Dave Bruzza. The set concluded with “Born Again,” “Entirely Mine” and “Solstice” from the month-old The Iceland Sessions EP recorded with Holly Bowling.

Billy Strings emerged in the second set following a sequence of New Grass Revival’s “Can’t Stop Now,” original “Cold Feet” and the Cris Jacobs-penned “Bone Digger.” The Muir, Michigan-bred Strings came out during staple “I’d Probably Kill You” after the band sang, “I might burn your house down if I was somehow sure Billy Strings was in there.” Billy ripped a fierce solo as soon as he took the stage and went on to trade licks with Bruzza.


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Greensky Bluegrass
Greensky Bluegrass (See 566 videos) and Billy Strings (See 734 videos)

The artist born William Apostol stuck around for the next four songs of the second set. The Greensky Bluegrass/Billy Strings summit continued on with fan-favorite “Demons.” Strings and Bruzza then delivered a duet on the instrumental “Hot Dogs (On Parade).” Next up was a full-band “Reverend,” a GSBG original Billy Strings has performed 19 times at his own shows dating back to 2019. Paul Hoffman and Billy Strings exchanged duties on lead vocals for “Reverend.” A take on “Monument” from the 2022 Greensky album Stress Dreams brought the extended collaboration to a close.

Greensky Bluegrass ended last night’s second set sans guests with “Windshield” and “Run Or Die.” Billy Strings was back on hand for the evening’s encore, a cover of The Rolling Stones’ “No Expectations.”

Watch video shared by GSBG featuring the rest of Strings’ second set guest appearance below:


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Greensky Bluegrass
Greensky Bluegrass (See 566 videos) and Billy Strings (See 734 videos)
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00:00:00
Greensky Bluegrass
Greensky Bluegrass (See 566 videos) and Billy Strings (See 734 videos)

00:00:00
Greensky Bluegrass
Greensky Bluegrass (See 566 videos) and Billy Strings (See 734 videos)

00:00:00
Greensky Bluegrass
Greensky Bluegrass (See 566 videos) and Billy Strings (See 734 videos)

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Setlist (via PhantasyTour.com)

Set One: Who Is Frederico?, Wish I Didn’t Know > New & Improved, Old Barns, Take Cover [1], Born Again, Entirely Mine, Solstice

Set Two: Can’t Stop Now, Cold Feet, Bone Digger, I’d Probably Kill You [2], Demons [2], Hot Dogs (On Parade) [3], Reverend [2], Monument [2], Windshield, Run or Die

Encore: No Expectations [2]

  • [1] – w/ Brian Oberlin (mandolin)
  • [2] – w/ Billy Strings (guitar, vocals)
  • [3] – Bruzza/Strings duo
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