Bluegrass superstar William Apostol—better known as Billy Strings—brought his five-piece band for a sold-out show on the rooftop venue Pier 17 last night. The standing room only venue holds nearly 3,500 people and offers sweeping panoramic views of Brooklyn, the East River, and Brooklyn Bridge, as well as downtown Manhattan—including the Seaport and Financial District.
Billy emerged onstage with his five-piece band as Alex Hargreaves on fiddle was added to the already well-known line-up consisting of Billy Strings on guitar, Billy Failing on banjo, Royal Masat on bass, and Jarrod Walker on mandolin. Adding layers to the music, the violinist fit right into the band’s interwoven jams. Whispers from the Phish fanbase spread like wildfire as rumors of Trey Anastasio’s gear and red mop were spotted during the load-in.
Strings began the show with a handful of tracks from his most recent album, Renewal, as “Red Daisy” kicked off the show until winding down to dig into a cover of Frank Wakefield’s “End of the Rainbow”. Returning to 2021’s Renewal, Strings performed “Running the Route” and “Hellbender” in succession and followed with classic rundowns of “Dust in a Baggie” segueing into “Dealing Despair”.
Billy Strings – “Red Daisy”
[Video: Laura Dowling]
Resonating with the surrounding geography, Billy and his band plucked their way through a scorching “Watch It Fall” before maintaining theme and intensity with a cover of John Hartford’s “In Tall Buildings”. Within a stone’s throw from Wall Street and the Stock Exchange, Billy sang, “The old man said the great Big Apple’s rotten to the core / With Wall Street skimming from the till while no one minds the store,” and continued with Hartford’s lyrics, “I’m off to the subway / I must not be late / Going to work in tall buildings.”
Billy Strings – “Watch It Fall”
[Video: Matt Frazier]
Winding down the first set, the five-piece string band returned “Home” for a lengthy stay until switching gears for a blissful cover of Pink Floyd’s “Fearless”. A refreshing breeze blew across the venue causing Strings to remark, “At least the wind’s blowing the right way,” as endless clouds of marijuana smoke billowed towards Wall Street. To finish the first set, the string band performed “Turmoil & Tinfoil” and allowed each member of the band to solo during the tune. The fiddle player, Alex Hargreaves, made damn sure that people felt his presence with a scorching improvisation section.
Billy Strings – “Fearless” (Pink Floyd)
A short set break gave the audience time to relieve themselves or splurge on $20 tall cans until Billy Strings and company returned to the rooftop stage for a traditional take on “Sally Goodin” before returning to his own repertoire for a meandering psychedelic journey through an unbroken “Must Be Seven” and “Meet Me at the Creek”.
To follow, consecutive covers flowed like the East River in the background, as David Grisman’s jazzy western “16/16” sounded like the musical progeny of the old—and now gone—B.B. King’s Blues Club and a desert saloon somewhere in the badlands of Mexico. To pay homage to the father of bluegrass, Bill Monroe, Strings covered “Close By” as the last tune played as a five-piece.
To the surprise of many, Trey Anastasio walked onstage accompanied by a boisterous round of applause from the NYC audience. This marked the second time in a week that Trey has accompanied a rising young act on stage after his sit-in with Goose last weekend at Radio City Music Hall.
Getting down, the stacked six-piece band launched into a selection of six songs with the help of Trey, beginning with a cover of Phish’s “Back on the Train” off 2000’s Farmhouse. Moving back to Billy Strings’ Renewal album, Billy’s five and Trey performed “Love & Regret” before working into covers of Bill Monroe’s “I’m Blue, I’m Lonesome”—a song frequently covered by Phish acoustically in the mid-’90s—John Hartford’s “All Fall Down”, and Doc Watson’s “My Love Comes Rolling Down”. Cutting it close before the strict 10 p.m. curfew, Billy Strings band and Trey returned to Farmhouse for one last Phish cover, “Gotta Jibboo”, to close the euphoric night of music.
Billy Strings With Trey Anastasio – Full Sit-In – 6/29/22
[Video: Larry Rulz 5]
Tonight, Billy Strings takes his show to Montage Mountain to commence the 10th Anniversary of The Peach Music Festival. The opening day lineup features Midnight North, Samantha Fish, Keller Williams, Billy Strings, Consider the Source, and Trouble No More, with many more throughout the weekend. What began as Allman Brothers Band’s festival in the north has evolved to shed light in many different hues and directions while still maintaining the energy and spirit of its roots. It will sure be hard for any music lover to miss with a killer lineup and perfect forecast for dancing and camping on the mountains above Scranton, PA. Have a great weekend everybody. Happy 4th of July!
Billy Strings – “Hellbender”
Billy Strings – “Dust In A Baggie”
Billy Strings – “Turmoil & Tinfoil”
Billy Strings With Trey Anastasio – “Back on the Train” (Phish)
Billy Strings With Trey Anastasio – “Love and Regret”
[Videos: Matt Frazier]
Billy Strings With Trey Anastasio – “I’m Blue, I’m Lonesome” (Bill Monroe)
Billy Strings With Trey Anastasio – “My Love Comes Rolling Down” (The Doc Watson Family)
Billy Strings With Trey Anastasio – “All Fall Down”
Billy Strings With Trey Anastasio – “Gotta Jibboo” (Phish)
[Videos: Borrowed Tune]
Billy Strings – Pier 17 – New York, NY – 6/29/22
[Audio: Capt. Greg]
Setlist: Billy Strings | Pier 17 | New York, New York | 6/29/22
Set 1: Red Daisy, End of the Rainbow > Running the Route, Hellbender, Dust in a Baggie > Dealing Despair, Watch It Fall > In Tall Buildings, Home, Fearless, Turmoil & Tinfoil
Set 2: Sally Goodin > Must be Seven > Meet me at the Creek, 16/16, Close By, Back on the Train*, Love and Regret*, Blue & Lonesome*, All Fall Down*, My Love Come Rolling Down*, Gotta Jiboo*
* with Trey Anastasio