Billy Strings capped off a weekend of Pacific Northwest arena-grass with shows at the Moda Center in Portland and the WaMu Center in Seattle featuring a wide range of covers and memorable jams.

After kicking off his fall tour in Idaho on Wednesday, Billy Strings arrived in Oregon for a pair of shows at Portland’s biggest arena, marking a major step up from his previous Portland show at McMenamins Edgefield amphitheater. The shows were also a homecoming for banjoist Billy Failing and fiddler Alex Hargreaves, as well as for Billy’s guitar, which was crafted in Sisters, OR. Friday’s show opened the run with a night of explosive jams and heartfelt songs, including a cover of Portland’s own Fruition, plus a memorable encore with Strings donning a pretty realistic-looking muscle costume (for full coverage of Friday’s show, click here). On Saturday, the band and much of the same audience returned refreshed and ready for round two.

Saturday’s show was more relaxed than Friday’s heater, but it had more notable highlights including covers of “Back on the Train” by Phish, “All Time Low” by Widespread Panic, “15 Steps” by Jeff Austin, “Cold Cold World” by Blaze Foley, and “I’ll Cry Instead” by The Beatles with bassist Royal Masat on lead vocals, played for only the second time.

Billy Strings – “Dusty Miller” (Traditional), “Know It All”, “Away From the Mire” – 10/1/23

Another high point came when the band exited the stage and left Billy to play a few songs solo. After picking a few traditional tunes, the segment culminated with a hair-raising a cappella rendition of “Am I Born to Die?” that had the entire arena completely still, silent, and attentive.

As he did on Friday, Strings shined a spotlight on Portland hometown hero Billy Failing, who dedicated “Charlie’s Birthday Breakdown” to his dog Charlie and sang lead vocals on “Down the Road” by Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs, and Alex Hargreaves, who grew up in nearby Corvallis, OR.

The energetic peak of the night came at the end of the encore during J.J. Cale‘s “Ride Me High “, which featured ample head-banging and a huge guitar solo from Billy Strings to cap off the Rose City run with a bang.

Billy Strings Portland Recap

The Pacific Northwest festivities continued on Sunday in Seattle, where Strings and the band covered “Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town” in tribute to Seattle hometown heroes Pearl Jam. The show also included a traditional single-mic performance of “Feast Here Tonight (Rabbit In A Log)” by Strings and mandolinist Jarrod Walker, followed by a segment with the full band around the single mic, Strings’ interpretation of Robert Hunter‘s “Thunder”, another solo Billy segment, and his recent collaboration with Willie Nelson, “California Sober”.

Billy Strings – “Taking Water”, “Highway Hypnosis”, “Southbound” (Doc Watson) – 10/1/23

“Dos Banjos”, featuring Billy Strings on clawhammer banjo and Billy Failing on banjo, capped off the weekend in the encore slot along with “Cabin Song” and “Uncle Pen” by Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys.

Click below to view a collection of fan-shot videos from this weekend’s Billy Strings shows in Portland and Seattle.

Billy Strings’ fall tour continues this week in California with one show at Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center and two nights at Stanford’s Frost Amphitheater, followed by a one-off at Tahoe Event Center in Stateline, NV. He also just announced a wrestling theme for his Halloween show in Grand Rapids, MI after teasing the theme in Portland. For a full list of upcoming shows and to purchase tickets, visit his website.


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Billy Strings – “Back On The Train” (Phish) – 9/30/23

[Video: ConceptsIllPonder]

Billy Strings – “These Memories Of You” – 9/30/23

[Video: ConceptsIllPonder]

Billy Strings – “I’ll Remember You, Love, In My Prayers (William “Billy” Hayes) – 9/30/23

[Video: ConceptsIllPonder]

Billy Strings – “Running the Route” > “Running” > “Raleigh and Spencer” (Traditional) – 9/30/23

[Video: ConceptsIllPonder]

Billy Strings – “All Time Low” (Widespread Panic) – 9/30/23

[Video: ConceptsIllPonder]

Billy Strings – “Away From The Mire” – 9/30/23

[Video: ConceptsIllPonder]

Billy Strings – “Open Up the Pearly Gates” (Carson Robison) – 9/30/23

[Video: Max Berde]

Billy Strings – “Cold, Cold World” (Blaze Foley) – 9/30/23

[Video: Max Berde]

Billy Strings – “In the Morning Light”, “All Time Low” (Widespread Panic), “Dealing Despair” – 9/30/23

[Video: Taper Jeff]

Billy Strings – “These Memories of You”, “Back on the Train” (Phish), “Charlie’s Birthday Breakdown” – 9/30/23

[Video: Taper Jeff]

Billy Strings – “Shenandoah Breakdown” (Bill Monroe), “Must Be Seven”, “Ride Me High” (J.J. Cale) – 9/30/23

[Video: Taper Jeff]

Billy Strings – “While I’m Waiting Here”, “15 Steps” (Jeff Austin) – 9/30/23

[Video: Taper Jeff]

Billy Strings – “I’ll Cry Instead” (The Beatles) – 9/30/23

[Video: Max Berde]

Billy Strings – “Uncle Pen” (Bill Monroe And The Bluegrass Boys) – 10/1/23

[Video: HippieG253]

Billy Strings – “Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town” (Pearl Jam) – 10/1/23

[Video: Max Berde]

Billy Strings – “Dos Banjos” – 10/1/23

[Video: patrick jeffery]

Billy Strings – “Wild Bill Jones” – 10/1/23

[Video: patrick jeffery]

Billy Strings – “California Sober” – 10/1/23

[Video: Max Berde]

Billy Strings – “My Alice” – 10/1/23

[Video: patrick jeffery]

View More Videos

Setlist [via BillyBase]: Billy Strings | Moda Center | Portland, OR | 9/30/23

Set 1: Dusty Miller (Traditional), Know It All, Away From the Mire, Hollow Heart, Ice Bridges, In the Morning Light, All Time Low (Widespread Panic), Dealing Despair, East Virginia Blues (Traditional) [1], Leaders > I’ll Cry Instead (The Beatles) [2], Running the Route > Running > Raleigh and Spencer (Traditional)

Set 2: I’ll Remember You, Love, in My Prayers (William “Billy” Hayes), On the Line (‘Train 45’), While I’m Waiting Here, 15 Steps (Jeff Austin), These Memories of You [3], Back on the Train (Phish), Charlie’s Birthday Breakdown [4], Give the Fiddler a Dram (Traditional), Cold, Cold World (Blaze Foley), Open Up Them Pearly Gates (Carson Robison) [5], And Am I Born to Die? (The Doc Watson Family) [6], Down the Road (Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs) [7], Red Daisy

Encore: Shenandoah Breakdown (Bill Monroe), Must Be Seven, Ride Me High (J.J. Cale)

[1] Last Played 2021-11-12 | 206 show gap
[2] Royal Masat on lead vocals
[3] Last Played 2022-03-09 | 170 show gap
[4] Last Played 2021-08-01 | 250 show gap
[5] Billy Strings solo
[6] Billy Strings acapella
[7] Billy Failing on lead vocals

Setlist [via BillyBase]: Billy Strings | WAMU Theater | Seattle, WA | 10/1/23

Set 1: Taking Water, Highway Hypnosis, Southbound (Doc Watson), Nothing’s Working, Wargasm, Salty Sheep, Secrets, Heartbeat Of America, My Alice, Train On The Island [1], Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town (Pearl Jam)

Set 2: Feast Here Tonight (Rabbit In A Log) [2], Freedom [3], Big Spike Hammer (The Osborne Brothers)[4], John Deere Tractor (Larry Sparks), Meet Me At The Creek, Pyramid Country, Thunder (Robert Hunter), Wild Bill Jones [5], Groundhog (traditional) [5], California Sober, Libby Phillips Rag, Love and Regret, Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down (Traditional)

Encore: Dos Banjos [6], Cabin Song, Uncle Pen (Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys)

[1] Last Played 2022-08-27 | 119 show gap
[2] Billy Strings on guitar with Jarrod Walker on mandolin around single mic
[3] Full band around single mic
[4] Last Played 2021-03-24 | 280 show gap
[5] Billy Strings solo
[6]] Dos Billys (Billy Strings on clawhammer banjo, Billy Failing on banjo)