Billy Strings wrapped up a two-night run at the State Theatre in Portland, ME on Tuesday. The latest stop on the bluegrass phenom’s tour saw an especially cover-heavy show from the quartet comprised of Strings, Billy Failing (banjo), Jarrod Walker (mandolin), and Royal Masat (bass).
The show started off with “Everything’s The Same”, with Billy making the Portland crowd feel special as he altered the lyrics to “I’m going to Portland, I’m going to Maine.” The ensemble dipped into improvisation early on with the Robert Hunter-penned “Thunder” prior to the sixth-ever telling of “Nothing’s Working”. The original composition appears on Strings’ latest album, Renewal, and saw its live debut on 9/24/21 at the two-day album release mini-festival in Buena Vista, CO.
Moving on with Ralph Stanley‘s “A Robin Built A Nest On Daddy’s Grave”, Billy then paired up the original “On The Line” with The Stanley Brothers‘ “Train 45”. A tribute to the titans of swamp rock came next with a boisterous “All Time Low” by Widespread Panic prior to Hot Rize‘s “Midnight on the Highway”. Billy brought the mood down with the eulogy of “Enough To Leave” before “This Old World” took him for a ride. A run through Keith Allison‘s “Freeborn Man” came next before an exploratory “Turmoil & Tinfoil” closed out set two.
Related: Billy Strings Announces 2022 Winter Tour Dates
Strings took the stage solo to start set two. Armed with a banjo, he delivered the second-ever take on Dock Boggs‘ “Country Blues”. The debut came on 10/25/20 during Strings’ show at an empty Ryman Auditorium with John Mailander—who was heard on violin throughout Renewal. Failing, Walker, and Masat rejoined their fearless leader and the covers kept on coming with Lonesome River Band‘s “Ernest T Grass” into The Stanley Brothers’ “How Mountain Girls Can Love”.
Billy then expressed some “Love & Regret” ahead of Charlie Monroe‘s “Rosa Lee McFall” before Béla Fleck‘s instrumental “Slipstream” lead into a reflectively murky “Wargasm”. Prior to a cover of Bill Monroe‘s “Dusty Miller”, Billy took a poll of the crowd, asking, “Is there anyone here named Dusty Miller?” An eagle-eyed Jarrod Walker pointed out, “Looks like that guy,” to which Billy responded, “well he’s saying ‘hell right, I’ll take it.'”
The ultimatum of “Show Me The Door” came next before one more selection from The Stanley Brothers, “Little Maggie”, and finally the third-ever take on the Carter Family‘s “Keep On The Sunny Side” to close the second set. Returning to the State Theatre stage one last time, Billy Strings offered his second-ever rendition of Pink Floyd‘s “Brain Damage”, a cover debuted on night one of his Wizard of Oz-themed Halloween run in Asheville on October 29th.
Billy Strings’ next stop is tonight, November 17th, at The Wang Theatre in Boston, MA. For tickets and a full list of tour dates visit his website. Scroll down to check out a gallery of images courtesy of photographer Vic Brazen. See below for a collection of fan-shot videos courtesy of Q Thunder.
Billy Strings – “Thunder” (Robert Hunter) – 11/16/21
Billy Strings – “Nothing’s Working” – 11/16/21
Billy Strings – “This Old World” – 11/16/21
Billy Strings – “Turmoil & Tinfoil” – 11/16/21
Billy Strings – “Ernest T Grass” (Lonesome River Band) > “How Mountain Girls Can Love” (The Stanley Brothers) – 11/16/21
Billy Strings – “Love & Regret” – 11/16/21
Billy Strings – “Rosa Lee McFall” (Charlie Monroe) – 11/16/21
Billy Strings – “Wargasm” – 11/16/21
Billy Strings – “Little Maggie” (The Stanley Brothers) – 11/16/21
Billy Strings – “Keep On The Sunny Side” (Carter Family) – 11/16/21
Billy Strings – “Brain Damage” (Pink Floyd) – 11/16/21
Setlist: Billy Strings | State Theatre | Portland, ME | 11/16/21
Set One: Everything’s the Same , Thunder (Robert Hunter), Nothing’s Working, A Robin Built A Nest On Daddy’s Grave (Ralph Stanley), On the Line > Train 45 (The Stanley Brothers), All Time Low (Widespread Panic), Midnight on the Highway (Hot Rize), Enough to Leave, This Old World, Freeborn Man (Keith Allison), Turmoil & Tinfoil
Set Two: Country Blues  (Dock Boggs), Ernest T Grass (Lonesome River Band) > How Mountain Girls Can Love (The Stanley Brothers), Love & Regret, Rosa Lee McFall (Charlie Monroe), Slipstream (Béla Fleck) > Wargasm, Dusty Miller (Bill Monroe), Show Me the Door, Little Maggie (The Stanley Brothers), Keep On the Sunny Side (Carter Family)
Encore: Brain Damage (Pink Floyd)
 “I’m going to Portland, I’m going to Maine” lyric change
 Billy Strings solo banjo