Billy Strings brought his Deja Vu Experiment run of concerts to a close on Wednesday night with more of the same live music magic as he and his eponymous band continued to roll out new material. The evening saw the debut of three original tunes along with four live debuts from the Grateful Dead catalog.
Taking the stage for night six of the run, Strings and company eased audiences in with a cover of Keith Allison‘s “Freeborn Man”. The blues cover gave Strings a chance to warm up his picking fingers while fans were treated to a much bluesier sound than usual. From there, Billy and the boys were off with Doc & Merle Watson‘s “Cocaine Blues” which rolled right into “Clinch Mountain Backstep” by The Stanley Brothers.
Strings then took his first detour into Deadland with “My And My Uncle”, originally penned by John Phillips though performed live by Bob Weir with the Dead hundreds, if not thousands, of times. Strings then explored his own catalog with a segue into “Living Like An Animal” before a brief reprise of “My And My Uncle”.
Following another Stanley Brothers cover with “I Only Exist” came the first debut of the evening with the all-too-brief instrumental romp, “Libby Phillips Rag”. It turned out to be back-to-back debuts as Billy Strings offered his first-ever live take on “Cassidy”, which first appeared on Weir’s 1972 solo album, Ace. Strings still wasn’t done debuting new songs, however, as he had one more before setbreak with “Wargasm”. The contemplation on our war-torn society fueled by violence lent itself to a noticeable jam that took the song over the seven-minute mark before setbreak.
Billy Strings – “Freeborn Man” (Keith Allison), “Let The Cocaine Be” (Doc & Merle Watson) > “Clinch Mountain Backstep” (The Stanley Brothers) – Port Chester, NY – 2/24/21
[Video: Billy Strings]
Upon returning to the stage, Strings and company delivered perhaps their most well-known song with “Dust In A Baggie”. The song didn’t linger, however, as it soon rolled smoothly into Jerry Garcia/Robert Hunter‘s “Deal” before Strings kept the train rolling into the final original debut of the night with “Running the Route”. Another short-but-sweet instrumental tune, the song built up from a whimper into a full-fledged roar before transitioning into another original, “So Many Miles”.
Next came what may very well have been the highlight of the show and possibly the entire run—next to night one’s “Dark Star”—for many Deadheads as Strings and company offered their first-ever take on “Help On The Way”. As he kicked off the song’s iconic F minor opening chord, the question on many tie-died minds was “how far is he going to take it?” The young picker born William Apostol gained more Deadhead cred with each passing segue as he moved into the instrumental “Slipknot!”—another debut—before wrapping the holy trinity of Grateful Dead songs with the eternally upbeat “Franklin’s Tower”—the final debut of the evening.
Billy Strings still wasn’t done with the Dead as he had one more cover up his sleeve with the serene “Brokedown Palace”. As Strings and his band rocked the audience in a cradle with the American Beauty tune, it was time to give the room one last shot of energy before leaving with the original “Meet Me At The Creek”. The song delivered the most expansive improvisation of the evening as Billy Strings and his band played on still unsure of when many of these viewers will see him next with The Deja Vu Experiment officially in the bag.
Billy Strings – “Dust In A Baggie” > “Deal” (Jerry Garcia) – Port Chester, NY – 2/24/21
[Video: Billy Strings]
Setlist: Billy Strings | The Capitol Theatre | Port Chester, NY | 2/24/21
Set One: Freeborn Man (Keith Allison), Cocaine Blues (Doc & Merle Watson) > Clinch Mountain Backstep (The Stanley Brothers), Me and My Uncle (John Phillips) > Living Like an Animal > Me and My Uncle (John Phillips), I Only Exist (The Stanley Brothers), Libby Phillips Rag , Cassidy
(Bob Weir) , Wargasm 
Set two: Dust in a Baggie > Deal (Jerry Garcia), Running the Route  > So Many Miles, Help on the Way (Grateful Dead)  > Slipknot! (Grateful Dead)  > Franklin’s Tower (Grateful Dead) , Brokedown Palace (Grateful Dead), Meet Me at the Creek