Billy Strings closed out a run in his home state of Michigan, wrapping up two shows at The Fillmore Detroit on Sunday night. Strings’ second night at The Fillmore saw him deliver several solo offerings, as well as the Grateful Dead staple, “Help on the Way” > “Slipknot!” > “Franklin’s Tower”, with his full band.
Taking the stage alone, Strings began the night on banjo with “Ol’ Rickard”, which carried a segue to the traditional “Reuben’s Train”. Billy then traded his banjo for the more-familiar acoustic guitar on a cover of Delmore Brothers‘ “Brown’s Ferry Blues”, before the rest of the band joined him on “Pyramid Country”.
With Billy Failing (banjo), Jarrod Walker (mandolin), and Royal Masat (upright bass) now in tow, the quartet took the oft-jammed “Pyramid Country” for a ride before eventually finding a home in “Must Be Seven”. The string of originals continued with “Away From The Mire” before another jam vehicle, “Highway Hypnosis”. Always dark and spacey, Billy and his band of explorers eventually clawed their way out of the long-stretching valley of “Highway Hypnosis” and into a cover of The Tony Rice Unit‘s “Manzanita”, from the 1979 album of the same name.
Strings, Failing, Walker, and Masat then bailed out the ship during a short and sweet “Taking Water”, leading to the melodic Home original, “Watch It Fall”, which made Strings question “How long until there’s nothin’ left at all?”
After closing the first frame with a cover of Jerry Reed‘s “The Likes of Me”, which the band last played at The Wang Theatre in Boston, MA on November 17th, Strings and company kicked off set two with “Meet Me At The Creek”. The upbeat, quickly-picked fan-favorite led to a newer original, “Secrets” before the four-piece outfit descended into cover territory with “99 Years Is Almost For Life”, pulled from the Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs songbook. The song originally appeared on 1963’s Hard Travelin’ with The Foggy Mountain Boys.
Following “Wargasm” and Bill Emerson‘s “Home of the Red Fox”, which segued to “Know It All”, Billy Strings set in motion a particularly fiery second half of set two. This segment started with John Hartford‘s “No End of Love”, which he performed for the first time with a full band after debuting it solo on May 1st, 2020 in Nashville, TN (per Phantasy Tour).
Before continuing with a massive, 18-minute jog through the classic Grateful Dead staple “Help on the Way” > “Slipknot!” > “Franklin’s Tower”, Billy exclaimed, “Man, y’all are so f*ckin’ behaved tonight. It’s weird. You guys really stoned, or something? We are too, it’s cool.”
Strings then counted the band into the segment of Blues for Allah classics, delivering serene vocals on “Help on the Way” with the backing of Failing and Masat. A meaty set two continued as Billy triggered the envelope filter on his acoustic guitar and ascended to new heights of blissful psychedelia. The effective interplay between him and Masat carried on for minutes before another gear of distortion flew them from the upper limits of the atmosphere and into the unknowns of deep space.
As the journey came to a close and the jam vehicle made its way back to Earth, the band then rolled “away the dew” with “Franklin’s Tower”, which heard many in the hometown audience gleefully sing along. After ending the second set with “Red Daisy”, the band reappeared for a two-song encore. First came a cover of Charlie Moore‘s “I’m Leaving Detroit” before a show-ending rendition of”Big Mon”, originally recorded by Bill Monroe.
Check out a video of Billy Strings performing the Grateful Dead covers at The Fillmore Detroit on Sunday night below.
Strings will continue his fall tour on Tuesday, November 30th, at The Civic Theatre in New Orleans, LA. Head to his website for tickets and additional tour information.
Billy Strings – “Help on the Way” > “Slipknot!” > “Franklin’s Tower” (Grateful Dead) – 11/21/21
[Video: The Zalewski Law Firm]
Setlist: Billy Strings | The Fillmore Detroit | Detroit, MI | 11/21/21
Set One: Ol’ Rickard  > Reuben’s Train (Traditional) , Brown’s Ferry Blues (Delmore Brothers) , Pyramid Country > Must Be Seven, Away From The Mire, Highway Hypnosis, Manzanita (The Tony Rice Unit), Taking Water, The Likes Of Me (Jerry Reed)
Set Two: Meet Me At The Creek, Secrets, 99 Years Is Almost For Life (Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs with The Foggy Mountain Boys), Wargasm, Home of the Red Fox (Bill Emerson) > Know It All, No End of Love (John Hartford) , Help On The Way (Grateful Dead)  > Slipknot! (Grateful Dead) > Franklin’s Tower (Grateful Dead), Red Daisy
Encore: I’m Leaving Detroit (Charlie Moore) > Big Mon (Bill Monroe)
 BS Solo Banjo
 BS Solo Guitar
 FTP with Full Band
 Jerusalem Ridge Tease