Billy Strings returned to the stage on Saturday night in his home city, Nashville, TN, for his second sold-out night at Bridgestone Arena. The all-around strong performance featured a pair of special guests who seemed to highlight the wealth of musical talent on tap in Music City on any given night including celebrated slide guitarist Derek Trucks—whose Tedeschi Trucks Band was playing a concurrent show across the street at the Ryman Auditorium—and local resident/banjo picker Noam Pikelny of Punch Brothers fame.

The Derek Trucks guest spot was a logistical feat: While the Nashville overlap in the Billy Strings/Tedeschi Trucks Band tour schedules had long prompted speculation about potential sit-ins, the overlapping timeframes of the two bands’ respective shows significantly complicated that prospect. Where there’s a will, however, there’s always a way: As it turns out, a Tedeschi Trucks Band setbreak at the Ryman is exactly long enough to sprint across Broadway and play a couple tunes with that Billy kid at the arena before running back to the Mother Church for set two.

Following a first-set rendition of “Secrets”, Strings addressed his audience with a note of mischief in his voice: “Hey. Ladies. Gentlemen. Folks. People. Welcome to the stage, Derek Trucks.”

As Derek strode out with his Gibson SG in hand and got settled in, Billy continued, “It’s kinda funny, uh, meeting you here, Derek. You guys got to just see me meet Derek Trucks. For the first time ever. Now, we’re gonna play a little bit and see what happens. … One time, I said to my friend, I was sitting there playing, we’re sitting there playing together, and I’m kinda like, you know what this is like? It’s like two dogs sitting here sniffing each other’s asses. I’m, like, checking out his licks, he’s checking out my licks, like [sniffs]. What have you been up to, man? That’s what I think this is.” With Derek Trucks adding assertive licks on slide guitar, Billy Strings proceeded to lead the band through a cover of Widespread Panic‘s “Pickin’ Up The Pieces”.

“I think he just got dropped off by a helicopter,” Billy joked when the nearly ten-minute Panic cover came to a close. “He’s just gonna play one more song with us and parachute back to his other gig, I think.” With that, the young flatpicker eased into his wistful Renewal ballad, “Love and Regret”, which Trucks met with a slew of tasteful and emotive licks. It was hard to tell whether Derek or Billy was more excited about this new connection. Trucks, for his part, cracked more smiles in two songs than you’re liable to see him sport on entire tours, and Strings was moved to full-scale belly laughter by the older guitarist’s sublime contributions as “Love and Regret” came to a close.

“Ladies and gentlemen, Derek Trucks! Wooo!” a grinning Billy Strings cooed as Trucks made his way off the stage and back to the Ryman. “In case you were wondering how it’s done…”


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A post shared by Tedeschi Trucks Band (@derekandsusan)

There was plenty more music to come even after Derek Trucks returned to his regularly scheduled TTB programming. After closing set one with a powerful “Away From The Mire”, Billy Strings and his eponymous outfit powered through a second set featuring a birthday shoutout to the late Ralph Stanley on his “Ridin’ That Midnight Train”, a well-received cover of Pearl Jam‘s “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town”, and an energetic pairing of “Pyramid Country” and “Thunder”, his posthumous collaboration with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter.

Related: Tedeschi Trucks Band Welcomes Lukas Nelson At Ryman Auditorium Finale [Photos/Videos]

Before welcoming his second guest of the evening, Billy reflected on the wealth of talent around town on a daily basis. “There’s just so many great pickers in this town, so many great musicians. And even on, like, a random, whatever night, like Derek earlier… I don’t know if he lives here, but he was in town, you know?” he shrugged. “Nashville’s just always poppin’, man. But I guess all this is to say we got another friend out here. Would it be okay if he comes and plays with us?”

The crowd roared with approval as Punch Brothers’ Noam Pikelny took the stage with his banjo for the Billy Strings debut of Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, and The Foggy Mountain Boys‘ “Polka On A Banjo”. The dual-banjo team of Pikelny and Billy Failing highlighted the “Shenandoah Breakdown” that followed before Strings guided the proceedings from Bill Monroe to Bill Nershi for a cover of The String Cheese Incident‘s “Black Clouds”.

Below, check out the full setlist from the Saturday night Billy Strings show at Nashville, TN’s Bridgestone Arena as well as a selection of photos and videos from the evening. Tonight, Billy will take the Derek Trucks route across Broadway to the Mother Church of Country Music for a sold-out, Sunday service at the Ryman. For a full list of upcoming Billy Strings tour dates, head here.

Billy Strings – “Bronzeback” > “Must Be Seven” [Pro-Shot] – 2/25/23

Billy Strings w/ Derek Trucks – “Pickin’ Up The Pieces” (Widespread Panic) – 2/25/23

[Video: Ohio Grown Live Music Archive]

Billy Strings w/ Derek Trucks – “Love and Regret” – 2/25/23

[Video: Ohio Grown Live Music Archive]

Billy Strings – “Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town” (Pearl Jam) – 2/25/23

[Video: Michael Wilker]

Billy Strings w/ Noam Pikelny – “Polka On A Banjo” (Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and The Foggy Mountain Boys) – 2/25/23

[Video: Ohio Grown Live Music Archive]

Billy Strings w/ Noam Pikelny – “Shenandoah Breakdown” (Bill Monroe) – 2/25/23

[Video: Ohio Grown Live Music Archive]

Setlist: Billy Strings | Bridgestone Arena | Nashville, TN | 2/25/23

Set One: Bronzeback > Must Be Seven > Meet Me At The Creek, Señor (Bob Dylan), On The Line, Show Me The Door, Secrets, Pickin’ Up The Pieces (Widespread Panic) [1], Love and Regret [1], Away From The Mire

Set Two: The Fire On My Tongue > Ridin’ That Midnight Train (Ralph Stanley), Fire Line, Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town, Pyramid Country > Thunder (Robert Hunter/Billy Strings), Polka On A Banjo (Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and The Foggy Mountain Boys) [2][3], Shenandoah Breakdown (Bill Monroe) [2], Black Clouds (The String Cheese Incident) [2], Summertime (George Gershwin), Wargasm, If Your Hair’s Too Long (There’s Sin In Your Heart) [4]

[1] With Derek Trucks (Tedeschi Trucks Band) on electric guitar
[2] With Noam Pikelny (Punch Brothers) on banjo
[3] First time played
[4] One microphone, Billy Strings on guitar, Alex Hargreaves on fiddle